A few months ago, Ben Carson was happily comparing things to Nazi Germany, saying appalling things about Muslims, and making wild claims about his near brushes with death. While the other candidates tangled with Donald Trump, the amiable pediatric neurosurgeon was free to focus on turning his moderately successful presidential campaign into a lucrative business venture.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the bestseller list. Several polls showed Carson pulling ahead of Trump nationally, and suddenly the media started asking questions about the incredible tales from Carson’s made-for-TV life, such as his claims that he was offered a scholarship to West Point (though he never even applied), protected unidentified white classmates during a riot, and tried to fatally stab a child, only to be thwarted by a belt buckle (and the holy spirit).
This weekend, Carson flipped — or rather, turned things up from low- to medium-energy. At a press conference on Friday night, Carson said Politico told “a bold-faced lie” in its West Point story. Carson implied in his book Gifted Hands that he was formally offered a scholarship, but he clarified on Friday that “It was, you know, an informal ‘with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point,’” during a meeting with General William Westmoreland. Politico initially said Carson “fabricated” the tale, then dialed that back.
Carson then blasted the media’s behavior in general, noting that they never scrutinized Barack Obama so harshly — then running down a list of various scandals from 2008 that disprove his point. “I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running,” Carson said. “In fact, I remember just the opposite. I remember people saying, Oh, we won’t really talk about that relationship. Frank Marshall Davis? We don’t want to talk about that. Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers? He didn’t really know him. All the things that Jeremiah Wright was saying. Goes to Occidental College, doesn’t do all that well, somehow ends up at Columbia University. Oh, I don’t know. His records are sealed. Why are you guys not interested in whether his records are sealed?”
The candidate pushed back on several Sunday shows too, telling Meet the Press that he’s being singled out by the “secular progressive movement in this country,” because his campaign is attracting “a great diversity of people and it worries them.”
He added that the various issues are not “real” scandals, and admitted on This Week that not everything he’s written is accurate. “Well, show me somebody, even from your business, the media, who is 100 percent accurate in everything that they say that happened 40 or 50 years ago,” he said. “Please show me that person, because I will sit at their knee and I will learn from them.”
It’s not entirely clear why Carson is complaining — and not because his issues are essentially the same as Hillary Clinton’s emails and Marco Rubio’s finances. At Friday’s press conference, Carson predicted, “All of you guys trying to pile on is going to help me. When I go out to these book signings and meet these thousands of people, they say, ‘Don’t let the media get you down.’” Turns out there’s an upside to all that alleged media persecution: