Representatives of Dr. Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, noted Christian author and 2016 Republican Presidential primary candidate, came out swinging Friday against Politico, an online news site, that claimed the Carson campaign admitted their man "fabricated" a key story about his background.
At issue is a passage in the 1996 book, Gifted Hands, co-authored by Carson and Cecil (Cec) Murphey. According to Politico, "the then-17 year old [Carson] was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson's telling, was followed by the offer of a 'full scholarship' to the military academy."
Politico then noted that the United States Military Academy, known colloquially as West Point after its suburban New York location, had no record of Carson applying or being accepted at the school. Also, the online site quoted anonymous West Point sources as saying there are no "full scholarships" to the school. In fact, those who attend the Academy do so free of charge, with the expectation that they will repay the country by serving in the U.S. Army.
Almost immediately, the Internet exploded with denunciations of Carson, whose reputation for integrity had been, according to a recent survey, the polar opposite of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Sixty percent of voters thought Carson to be honest, a Fox News poll revealed, while 61 percent thought Clinton, a former First Lady, former U.S. Senator and most recently U.S. Secretary of State, was not honest.
Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, who has not generally been given to understatement, led the charge on Twitter.
But Trump's use of the word "lies" may turn out to be a bit overwrought. Doug Watts, a spokesman for the Carson campaign, issued a statement to the Daily Caller website blasting Politico for claiming the campaign "admitted" that Carson "falsified" his story.
"The Politico story is an outright Lie. Dr. Carson as the leading ROTC student in Detroit was told by his Commanders that he could get an Appointment to the Academy. He never said he was admitted or even applied," Watts' statement said. "The campaign never 'admitted to anything.' This is what we have come to expect from Politico."
Poltico itself has a curious record of reporting on conservative Republican presidential contenders. In 2011, the online site ran an article accusing Herman Cain, a 2012 Republican Presidential primary candidate, and, like Carson, an African-American with conservative political views, of sexually harassment when Cain served as president of the National Restaurant Association, a trade group.
Although the charges derailed Cain's 2012 campaign, he remains active in political commentary and, in 2013, told Real Clear Religion that while the accusations were ultimately discredited, it was the devil who was behind the charges. "It made me realize that there was a force bigger than right," Cain said.
Roughly six months after it reported on the allegations against Cain, Politico again attacked a conservative Republican presidential aspirant, this time former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Politico's headline initially alleged Jews for Jesus, a messianic Jewish evangelical ministry, had paid Santorum to speak at an event. After a reader complained, this was later updated to reflect the facts of the case, that Santorum had accepted a speaking fee from the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, a separate organization. The "Jews for Jesus" allegation remains in the Internet address for the story, however.
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