Diary

Washington Post attack on Ben Carson's campaign distorts the truth

Since Dr. Ben Carson announced his candidacy for POTUS on May 4th in Detroit, there have been several attempts to attack his capability or credibility. The most recent attempt at casting doubt upon the Carson America campaign came on June 5th in a Washington Post article, which attempted to “reveal” that the Carson campaign “has been rocked by turmoil with the departures of four senior campaign officials and widespread disarray among his allied super PACs.” Yet, after reading the Post article, it causes one to wonder whether the Post should have assigned a couple of better writers if the intent was to cast doubt about the Carson campaign.

The Post writers, Robert Costa and Phillip Rucker, attempted to lead readers to the conclusion that the Carson campaign was doomed due to dysfunction. However, from beginning to end, the article is filled hyperbole, and can be discarded as sensationalism or “yellow” journalism. Apparently, the writers had an opportunity to do due diligence to report the truth, but decided not to.

Their article primarily deals with an effort to portray Carson America as a “campaign… marked by signs of dysfunction and amateurism…” with the conclusion that such chaos is “alarming supporters who privately worry that Carson’s sprawling circle of boosters is fumbling his opportunity.”

The writers focus on the departure of Terry Giles, the former campaign chairman of the USA First PAC, with an insinuation that Giles resigned due to internal dysfunction. Yet, it is now understood that Terry Giles’ effort to provide accurate information about his resignation fell upon deaf ears. He specifically addressed Costa: “The article you released yesterday is a perfect example of one of America’s most serious issues–the lack of journalistic integrity… I spoke to you at length before you wrote this article only to have you ignore real facts so that you could promote your own sleazy agenda.”

The letter Giles wrote to the Post continued challenging by the allegations: “For you to claim that the Carson campaign is in turmoil because myself and three of my very close friends and colleagues have adjusted our role in assisting Dr. Carson to better fit our skill sets is wrong on so many levels that it defies logic and common sense.”

In point of fact, a transcript of Dr. Carson’s announcement speech on May 4th reveals that one of the first things on Carson’s agenda as he announced his intent to officially seek GOP acceptance to run for president was his re-assignment of Terry Giles to a more long-term objective:

 Now that we are transitioning from… an exploratory committee, I have asked Terry if he would take the lead in helping to select the people who will be able, who have had enormous experience with business and with making things work,                                                                               so that we can transition our government from this inefficient thing that we have into something that really works and something that works the way it is supposed to, according to our constitution.

One must remember that certain journalists often do not let facts get in the way of fabrications. If one can shovel dirt instead of dealing with reality, why worry about truth? A recent blatant example of that was the now infamous Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus” story that went viral after (notice the irony here) the Washington Post publically questioned the veracity of the story originally published in Rolling Stone in November of 2014. However, to the credit of Will Dana, Managing Editor at Rolling Stone at the time, who wrote in April of this year:

As we asked ourselves how we could have gotten the story wrong, we decided the only responsible and credible thing to do was to ask someone from outside the magazine to investigate any lapses in reporting, editing and fact-finding behind                                                                         the story. We reached out to Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism… and we promised to publish their report… With its publication (being finished at that time), we are officially retracting “A Rape on Campus.” We are also committing                                            ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are  spelled out in the report…

As noble as it appears, the fabrication was spun and a tale told, and at the time, the story went viral. Sabrina Ederly, the writer of the story was besieged with telephone calls and attention. The Stone retraction in April revealed that: “The online story ultimately attracted more than 2.7 million views, more than any other feature not about a celebrity that the magazine had ever published.” However, far fewer readers saw the retraction, or bothered to view Steve Coll’s report. The lie spread; and sadly, the truth was trampled.

Unfortunately, sensationalist journalism persists. A case in point is this Post article on Carson’s campaign. The fact remains whether the Washington Post will even manifest an appearance of caring about honest journalism. Giles did make a serious effort to offer the truth, but it was rejected.    Dr. Ben Carson was in Iowa on June 6th and Breitbart News captured his comments regarding the Post article, and he repelled the claims that there was “turmoil” inside his campaign: “Any teacher who wants to teach their students what yellow journalism is should use that Washington Post article — that’s all it is — yellow journalism.”

It would be very interesting to see if the Washington Post bothers to practice what they dish out to other publishers. To initiate an official retraction, or at least issue an apology to the Carson America campaign would seem the “only responsible and credible thing” to do. Those in the Carson camp would probably not be awaiting such journalistic professionalism from the Post. Actually, Dr. Carson is right – it falls into the quagmire of yellow journalism. Sensational stories sell! Big media is about big business; but, being big can also be about insidious manipulation of opinion.