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Right Opinion

Ben Carson Must Be Destroyed — Not

Gary Bauer · Nov. 10, 2015

Big media has zeroed in on Carson because he is the new frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. They’re also targeting him because he is a man of faith and, let’s be honest, because he is a black conservative. Recent polling shows Carson would get 20 percent of the African American vote against Hillary Clinton, a result that would devastate her election chances and destroy the whole left wing narrative about race.

The media have been going over Carson’s record, his every utterance, with a fine-tooth comb. What have they found? Not very much, honestly. But when they’re going after conservatives, not very much can be more than enough to create a fake scandal.

Let me summarize the “controversy.” In his bestselling book, Gifted Hands, Carson tells the story of meeting General William Westmoreland when Carson was a top ROTC student in Detroit in the late 1960s. According to Carson, they had a nice chat and at the end of the meeting, Westmoreland offered him a “full scholarship to West Point.” This is a story Carson has re-told many times throughout his life, including on the campaign hustings.

Perhaps Carson can be blamed for imprecise language. The application process to West Point is a formal one in which applicants must be recommended. Plus, West Point is a public institution, so everyone who is admitted receives, in effect, a full scholarship.

That said, it is very reasonable to assume that Carson met General Westmorland and that he was told he would be able to get in without having to pay for the schooling. But the media, in this case Politico, have alleged that Carson made up the story. What’s more, a follow-up Politico story said that when confronted with the story, the Carson campaign “admitted” that “the inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. …”

But Carson didn’t apply and get turned down, which is what the Politico story seemed to suggest. As Carson has said, he had only enough money to apply to one school, Yale, to which he was admitted.

The West Point story is only one of Carson’s biographical details that the media have been scrutinizing. They’ve also made hay over his assertion that he had an anger problem when he was young but that through his Christian faith, he learned to temper his emotions and go on to have phenomenal success.

Some in the media seem to be trying to dismantle his life story, claiming, bizarrely, that Carson never had an issue with anger at all. Normally, the media look for evidence that a candidate has had problems with his temper in the past. But with Carson, they seem to want to show that he never had an anger issue. They seem to want to portray Carson as a liar, and thus untrustworthy. They also probably want to puncture his conversion story, knowing how much Americans love to embrace presidential candidates who have overcome difficulty (Obama with drugs and a broken home; George W. Bush with alcoholism). It makes them more relatable. And that’s one thing the left doesn’t want to see a conservative candidate to whom poor and minority voters can relate to and aspire to emulate.

The media’s nitpicking over details of Carson’s life story from a half century ago reminds me of their treatment of Mitt Romney. In 2012, the Washington Post ran a sprawling feature article that tried to portray the adolescent Romney as a bully. The piece headlined “Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents.” It didn’t work. In fact, it probably made Mitt more likeable.

All of this wouldn’t be so bad if the media scrutinized liberal candidates half as much as they do conservatives. But alas, they don’t. As the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway points out about the Politico treatment of Carson’s West Point story, “For what it’s worth, Carson’s story strikes me as more believable than Hillary Clinton’s claim she tried to join the Marines in 1975.”

Of course, we know why the media go so easy on the left: The vast majority of journalists are liberal. A new study by researchers at Indiana University finds that four times as many journalists identify as Democrats than as Republicans. Many other polls have come to similar conclusions. What’s more, the survey found that when the self-identified Republican journalists donate money to political campaigns, they usually give to Democrats. Other research has shown that journalists vote Democratic by a margin of nine to one.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the story is that some of Carson’s competitors for the Republican nomination are using it to portray him as untrustworthy. Over the weekend, Donald Trump questioned the validity of Carson’s claim that he had a temper as a child and other parts of his biography.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said that he doesn’t “have a lot of sympathy” for Carson’s complaints about the media. He says it’s up to Carson to prove his life story is correct.

Meanwhile, the likely Democratic nominee is getting off without having to answer tough questions about all of her scandals. And her opponents for the nomination have barely talked about them. In the first Democratic debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that he was tired of hearing about Hillary’s emails.

None of this should be taken as an endorsement of Carson for president. I have not decided whom I will back as the nominee. This can be taken as an endorsement of Carson’s life story, however, and as an indictment of a media that seems more intent on tearing down the inspiring story of a popular black conservative than in scrutinizing the much more recent and troubling history of the scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton.

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