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Government & Politics

Politico's Leftmedia Hatchet Job on Ben Carson

Targeting Ben Carson for being conservative while black.

Mark Alexander · Nov. 9, 2015

Here’s a case study in Leftmedia charades: Find something a conservative black candidate said that can be twisted into something he did not say, and run with it as an exclusive, hoping most of your readers are too stupid to discern the difference.

On Friday, Politico posted a hit piece on the surging GOP presidential candidate entitled, “Ben Carson Admits Fabricating West Point Scholarship.” The essence of the piece was that Politico conflated Carson’s story in his book, “Gifted Hands,” about being offered a scholarship to West Point by Gen. William Westmoreland with Carson claiming he applied or received an appointment to the academy.

In fact, Carson has always been clear that he neither applied nor received an appointment. “As overjoyed as I felt to be offered such a scholarship, I wasn’t really tempted,” he wrote in his book. “The scholarship would have obligated me to spend four years in military service after I finished college, precluding my chances to go on to medical school. I knew my direction — I wanted to be a doctor, and nothing would divert me or stand in the way.”

After taking heat from all quarters about the inaccuracy of this piece of yellow journalism, Politico’s Kyle Cheney quietly corrected the title to read, “Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied.” In effect, Cheney admitted that the Politico story was the real fabrication.

As The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel notes, “[T]aking ‘fabrication’ out of that headline is like taking uranium out of an A-bomb.”

Criticism of Cheney’s charade ranged from the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Ben Carson exposed? Not really” to The Weekly Standard’s “Politico’s Shoddy Hit on Ben Carson.”

By way of disclaimer, I like Ben Carson, but I think he is unprepared for the office of president of the United States. That said, Carson’s intellect, ethics and values stand head and shoulders above those of Barack Obama.

More to the point, as the parent of a young man who received appointments to multiple service academies and will graduate from one this year, I have not been concerned about how Carson has framed his remarks about being “offered a full scholarship” to West Point. I have heard Carson’s repeated narrative about this, which I interpreted to mean he was qualified and encouraged to go to West Point. All West Point cadets have a “full scholarship” in the sense that they don’t pay for tuition or room and board. Or, rather, they pay with military service rather than money.

I have never heard Carson say he was offered an appointment to the USMA, which would be quite different, and I never interpreted Carson’s words to mean he had an appointment.

For what it’s worth, unlike the Politico author, I have met both Carson and Westmoreland. I know how they both communicate.

The “full scholarship” story is typical of Carson’s casual style of writing and speaking. I am confident he did not deliberately intend to deceive anyone or suggest that Gen. Westmoreland’s telling him he could get a scholarship was tantamount to his having a service academy appointment.

If Politico really wanted to break a scandalous story, perhaps they should’ve started back in 2008 with this headline: “Barack Obama’s First Political Fundraiser Held at Home of Rich Leftist Radicals William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.” Ayers was co-founder of the Marxist Weather Underground terrorist group. Or they might have headlined about Jeremiah “G-D America” Wright, “Obama’s 20-Year Relationship With Black Supremacist Guru Raises Questions.” Indeed, they simply might have questioned what Obama meant by “our shared values.”

Of course, Carson is a much softer target. Oh, and a black conservative.

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