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November 06, 2015

Politico Claims Ben Carson Fabricated a Claim About Applying to West Point and Getting a Full Scholarship


Carsonís book, "Gifted Hands," the then-17 year old 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 Carsonís telling, was followed by a "full scholarship" to the military academy. Story Continued Below

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission....

"Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit," campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. "In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can't remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson's performance as ROTC City Executive Officer."

"He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors," Bennett went on. "They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission."

My problem with this Politico piece is that they're trying to claim he's lying, even though they can't prove he's lying, per the terms of the, let's say clarification, to the story he's making now. He's saying he wasn't officially offered a scholarship; he's saying that Westmoreland told him that based upon grades and performance, he's get a full scholarship, so he took that to mean "offered a full scholarship."

Politico tries further in the article to say he's lying but they have nothing to back that up -- they have someone saying "Westmoreland couldn't guarantee acceptance, and would have to explain the whole application process."

Okay -- so? Politico is trying to say "And of course it's very unlikely he did that," but why is that unlikely?

Anyway, Carson's "offered a scholarship" claim appears to be misreporting of what happened, but, assuming that he's telling the truth about the rest of it (which is only an assumption), I don't see a big deal here. If Westmoreland told me "with your grades and ROTC performance, you'd get a full ride at West Point," I would in fact tell that story as "I was offered a full ride at West Point."

Well, maybe I wouldn't, actually. I think I'd actually say I was told I could get a full ride at West Point by General Westmoreland.

Still, I can see telling it the other way, in shorthand. (For example, if this was two sentences in a book -- I can see the events being collapsed and streamlined into the bullet point.)

I mean, I didn't know he had good grades (I didn't think about it much). I also had no idea that he was ROTC.

So... I'm kind of learning new positive information here. He was ROTC, he was therefore in a leadership position, and kinda-sorta in the military. (Kinda-sorta.)

If he's a top ROTC cadet being invited to a banquet with Westmoreland, and he's got good grades, then yeah, I kinda imagine he could get into West Point. (I would say "And he's black" but I don't know when Affirmative Action started, or if West Point employed it.)

Honestly, when I began writing this story the take was "Carson's lied" and as I've actually written what Politico has -- and what they don't have -- I've found myself increasingly feeling like the people doing the fabrication here are Politico.

This seems to me to be more a case of loose language than a lie -- assuming the other parts of Carson's claim are true. (Which I do assume, because Politico just can't seem to disprove them, and O Lordy!, are they tryin'.)

Update: Liberal (but often reasonable) reporter Dave Wiegel notes this -- three months ago, Ben Carson said he had only applied to one school.

Yet Politico claims that Carson claimed in "Gifted Hands" that he applied to West Point -- which he never claimed.

More: In Gifted Hands itself, Carson makes it clear that he applied to one and only one college, and it wasn't West Point.

Politico's little narrative just blew the f*** up.

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posted by Ace at 12:19 PM

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