Politics & Policy

Sorry, Media, You Won’t Destroy Ben Carson

(Joe Raedle/Getty)

Let’s begin with two propositions: There is a difference between an admirable man and a perfect man, and there is a difference between “vetting” and viciousness. The collective goal of the liberal media is now clear — to take one of America’s most admired and brilliant men and somehow transform him into a dishonest, stupid extremist. The vetting of Ben Carson has become vicious, and to what end? An admirable man has been exposed as imperfect.

The first round of attacks, focusing on Carson’s alleged extremism, failed utterly. Under fire — for claiming that it would be better if victims rushed mass shooters rather than hiding, for asserting that Hitler would have been less likely to accomplish his aims if the German people had been armed, and for comparing the debate over abortion to the debate over slavery — Carson refused to back down. A conservative public, wearily familiar with politicians kowtowing to media-generated outrage, took notice.

Rather than deal directly with Carson’s statements, the media twisted his words, scurrilously asserting that he was “blaming the victims” of school shootings and claiming that German Jews alone could have stopped the Holocaust (when he’d plainly referred to the “German people,” not just German Jews). As for the abortion–slavery comparison, even Vox noted that conservatives have been making that argument for decades. The comparison is controversial, certainly, but hardly “extreme.”

While the media no doubt still believe Carson to be extreme, they quickly learned that their attacks only increased his popularity with a PC-averse conservative public. In the midst of these fake “controversies,” he shot to the top of Republican polls, where he now (slightly) edges out Donald Trump in the RealClearPolitics average.

RELATED: Misunderestimating Carson

If he’s not extreme, is he stupid? Left-wing websites have great fun mocking Carson’s skepticism of the theory of evolution, his idle speculations regarding the purpose of the pyramids, and his thoughts on climate change and the debt limit. Yet this line of attack is fruitless. Carson may not be as fluent in public policy as the professional politicians who’ve been debating these issues for years, but his résumé is decisive evidence of his intelligence.

Carson didn’t say that he applied, only that he’d been offered a ‘full scholarship.’ How can he ‘fabricate’ a claim he never made?

If he’s not extreme or stupid, is he dishonest? Is it possible that a man known for his rags-to-riches life story, his generosity, his humility, and his deep and lasting concern for the poor has a character problem? After all, in Carson’s famous autobiography, Gifted Hands, he said that he’d been offered a “full scholarship” to West Point. Politico says that Carson now admits that story was “fabricated.” Their proof? He never applied to West Point. But Carson didn’t say that he applied, only that he’d been offered a “full scholarship.” How can he “fabricate” a claim he never made?

Carson’s campaign manager says that Carson was introduced to “folks from West Point by his ROTC supervisors. . . . They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC.” What, exactly, is the story here? If it’s simply that he should have described military officials’ expressions of enthusiasm with more precision, then this is truly a tempest in a teapot.

#share#His account, in fact, resonates with my own experience. Many years ago I was “offered” an ROTC scholarship before I even applied. After speaking with officers familiar with my academic record, they told me I would receive a full academic scholarship, and that the application was a mere formality. My teenage self certainly took their statements as an “offer,” and I wouldn’t have applied without their word. (I filled out the forms and was formally accepted, but declined in favor of a better scholarship elsewhere.)

RELATED: Ben Carson’s Response to PC Outrage Is Smarter than Trump’s

At the same time, CNN’s effort to call into question Carson’s story about his childhood anger issues is both weak and malicious. The network interviewed ten people from his neighborhood about 50-year-old incidents that Carson claims they never witnessed, and now peddle a story raising doubts about claims in Carson’s biography. What? Is it now the case that CNN can interview ten people about decades-old life events that didn’t happen to them and now breathlessly proclaim a “scoop.”

Hovering over the feeding frenzy is the absurd media spectacle of mainstream reporters claiming they’re merely “doing their job” by diving into 50-year-old details of Ben Carson’s childhood. The same reporters who were not just incurious about the details of Barack Obama’s background in 2008 but actively hostile to those who asked reasonable questions about his relationship with admitted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and his years of religious instruction from Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright.

#related#At the end of the day, what are we left with? An admirable though imperfect man who rose from abject poverty to the pinnacle of one of the most challenging professions in the nation — all while never forgetting his roots, maintaining grace and humility even as he earned riches and honors. In fact, his life story — and his character — would make him one of the most inspiring Americans ever to occupy the Oval Office. But he’s a direct threat not just to leftist narratives regarding race and class but also to the leftist stranglehold on the black vote. And for that reason alone he must be destroyed.

A “high-tech lynching” is again underway, but if recent history is any guide, the Left’s attempt to strike down Carson will only make him stronger. The media can launch its attacks, but it cannot change the fundamental facts: Ben Carson is a good and decent man, an American hero.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.


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