By now, almost everyone has fallen into one of two camps about the questions that have been raised about some of the facts related in Ben Carson’s biography – either you believe that Ben Carson has been exposed as a serial liar, or you believe that they are evidence of a biased media run out of control. On the right, many of the people who aren’t even defending Carson substantively are pointing out the fact Democrats often don’t face the level of scrutiny to their personal stories that Carson has.
And there’s something to that. Definitely, the press was relatively incurious about the pre-law school background of Barack Obama. Definitely, they are not all that interested in the fact that Hillary Clinton flat out lied about being named after Sir Edmund Hillary. At this point, they have also largely forgotten Clinton’s fantastical tale about landing under “sniper fire” in Bosnia. B
But it isn’t really the case that the media always ignores problems in Democrat biographies. An eerily similar discrepancy derailed and discredited the 1988 Joe Biden presidential campaign.
But there’s an aspect to the way the media works that doesn’t get commented on enough that is usually the simplest explanation for why the media covers certain things and does not cover other things: they are lazy, and disinclined to find their own stories.
Think about, for instance, the Natalee Holloway story. Thousands of people go missing every year in America. Why did every media outlet in the country follow her story for a week (and FoxNews is probably still following it) rather than all of them going out and finding their own missing person to cover and make a story out of? Because they are lazy and have a herd mentality.
They have, for the most part, the mentality of birds. Have you ever seen birds who are taking a rest during a migration? They will all stop on the same section of telephone wire. One of them will see something on the ground and fly down to the ground. The rest of the whole flock will then fly to the ground just to see what the other was looking at. When one of them flies back up to the wire, the rest follow. Blazing a trail is inimical to their species. It’s much easier just to follow the good story everyone else has dug up than to go out there and find your own, and so the media never does.
As a result, huge, glaring and obvious problems with stories go completely under the radar for reasons that have nothing to do with bias. For instance, former Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o told a story about a girlfriend who was dying for an entire year and no one from the media ever even thought to themselves, “Hey, I bet it would make a great story if we talked to this girlfriend directly,” until Deadspin blew the lid off the entire media by proving that she did not even exist.
What was the groundbreaking, back-breaking work Deadspin reporters did to uncover this bombshell? They called Stanford to see if this alleged person existed. That’s it. When it turned out she didn’t, they did a news search to see if she was ever born and it turns out she wasn’t. This isn’t Pulitzer material here, folks. But it exposes how easy for a huge, juicy piece of low-hanging fruit to go completely unpicked by the media simply due to their laziness.
On the other hand, if you find yourself the target of the media with their bird brains it can be a terrifying experience. And right now, Ben Carson is facing the fact that the flock has descended on his autobiography. They’re not going to leave until they’ve picked the bones clean.
As it happens, I think that most of what they’ve uncovered so far are minor inconsistencies rather than major problems or intentional lies. I think some of what they are asking him to do is to prove a negative or verify things that are virtually impossible to verify after the passage of almost 50 years (there’s a reason the statute of limitations exist in the law). And yes, it is true that they have not shown this level of interest in picking over the biography of Barack Obama or any number of other people.
Some of that is bias, but a lot of it also is just that reporters are habitually lazy and for the most part take the path of least resistance, which is to follow up on a story turned up by someone else rather than finding their own.