Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson pushed back Sunday on the recent stories that he has been untruthful about his past. Carson made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows saying that he was getting unusual scrutiny from a biased media because he poses a threat to the “secular progressive movement.” Carson blasted the media for doing a “political hit job” on his campaign. Meanwhile, Carson said received over $3.5 million in fundraising dollars “thanks to biased media coverage.”
Carson, who has never sought public office, says his life story is what qualifies him to be president of the United States. He has become defensive and testy, however, over questions from the media and others about statements he made about his past in his book and on the campaign trail. He said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the Obama “birther story is not close” to the scrutiny he faces. Monday, GOP chairman Reince Priebus came to Carson’s defense, telling Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” that Carson is getting more scrutiny than Hillary Clinton’s emails or Benghazi.
This latest controversy began Saturday when a reporter asked Carson to clarify his earlier interview with Charlie Rose in which he said he had been given a “full scholarship” to West Point. Carson yelled at that reporter to “stop lying,” stating emphatically that he never said that. Later, when confronted with the tape of the interview, Carson’s campaign admitted he had misspoke about the West Point Scholarship. Sunday, he went on the attack, blasting the media for covering that story and others. Carson said he is not being vetted, but rather attacked.
Carson has surged in the polls recently, overtaking Donald Trump for first place in many polls. As is always the case, being front-runner brings greater media scrutiny. Up to now, Carson has avoided media scrutiny since Trump had been at the top of the polls for over 110 days, and there were 17 Republican candidates for much of the summer and fall.
Media scrutiny began in late summer after Carson said that he was robbed at gunpoint in a Popeye’s restaurant. Police reports do not show that any such holdup occurred in that time frame at a Popeye’s. Then, after Carson’s ascendancy to the top, the media began digging.
Carson claimed that as a youth in Detroit, before he became a Seventh Day Adventist, he had a violent past. He claimed that he attempted to stab a friend and hit his mother with a hammer. CNN investigated the claim, interviewing nine of Carson’s classmates. The network reported that it could not find a single person who could corroborate either story.
The Wall Street Journal, hardly a liberal news outlet, investigated a claim by Carson that he was featured in an article in the Yale newspaper for being the most honest student in a psychology class at Yale. The Journal said no such article exists. In addition, the Journal was critical of Carson for claiming that not a single signer of the Declaration of Independence had any political experience. The facts are that Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, John Hancock and others had served in the legislatures of their colonies prior to signing the Declaration.
PolitiFact, a fact checking organization, looked at 19 statements made by Carson, and found none of them to be true. Most were either false or misleading according to the fact checkers. Only one was found to be mostly true, and one was rated “pants on fire” for its falsehood.
Carson defends his statements claiming that he is not a politician, will never be a politician, and does not speak like a politician. He said he is a threat to the media because he is the only candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton. He told CBS that he now has secret service protection due to “credible threats.”
Naturally, Carson’s chief threat—Donald Trump—has jumped in, telling reporters that Carson’s remarks were “disturbing.” Trump and Carson are the top two candidates in the GOP primary with Carson leading in Iowa and Trump ahead in New Hampshire. Together, the two outsiders have the support of over half of Republican voters. Therefore, expect the two men to begin attacking each other as Election Day approaches.