Ben Carson was “blindsided” by the plagiarism allegations leveled against him on Wednesday by BuzzFeed, a source close to the neurosurgeon tells National Review Online.
The source says that Carson and his wife, Candy, who worked with him on the 2012 book America the Beautiful, “did everything they needed to do to tell the publisher what needed to be attributed.” Carson, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, is the author of several books, including the bestselling autobiography Gifted Hands, which was published in 1990.
America the Beautiful, which mixes history, politics, and autobiography, is the first book on which Carson collaborated with his wife, who is credited on the front cover. Candy Carson, the source says, “relied heavily on the editor” to ensure all of the sources were attributed correctly. Carson’s book agent, Sealy Yates, told the Daily Caller that the Carsons “delivered a completed manuscript to the publisher and they then relied on the editorial staff, which every author does.”
The book was published by Zondervan, HarperCollins’s Christian division, which is currently featuring Carson’s latest book on its web page. BuzzFeed highlights sentences in the book lifted from a number of sources, including SocialismSucks.net. Zondervan did not immediately return a request for comment.
Carson and his associates are laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign. The latest allegations are unlikely to derail those plans, but they do undermine the image of Carson, held by many Republicans, of a talented physician with an inspirational story who, as a political outsider, lacks the rhetorical discipline of the career politicians he would be up against in a GOP primary. And it raises concerns that his work outside of medicine has been sloppy.
Carson is not the only potential 2016 candidate to have fielded accusations of plagiarism — in fact, it seems nearly all political candidates are caught plagiarizing something or other these days. BuzzFeed also found that Senator Rand Paul plagiarized portions of his 2013 book, which was subsequently updated.
None of this will tarnish Carson’s reputation among his fans, but it won’t help him transcend his status as a darling of the grassroots to become a serious political force in the Republican party.