Anyone at all familiar with Thomas Jefferson is well aware of our third president’s vital influence on the crafting of the American Constitution. While Jefferson is primarily known as the chief author of the Declaration of Independence and James Madison is primarily known as the early architect of what would become our Constitution and the prime mover behind the Bill of Rights, the two men were close friends, lived not very far apart in Virginia, and kept regular correspondence.
Jefferson and Madison were of like political minds, and during the Constitutional Convention, while Jefferson was across an ocean as U.S. Minister to France, the two men enjoyed an intense and productive correspondence about what the U.S. Constitution should look like.
My media hero of the week (more on this below), USA Today editor David Mastio, accurately sums up the rest of the story:
After the Constitution Convention was over, Jefferson had this other idea called a “Bill of Rights,” which you might have heard is a part of the Constitution. Jefferson sorta played a key role in all that First Amendment, Second Amendment stuff. If you don’t believe me, go ask the American Civil Liberties Union, which is big on rights like free speech and freedom of religion.
Saith the ACLU: “The American Bill of Rights, inspired by Jefferson and drafted by James Madison, was adopted, and in 1791 the Constitution’s first 10 amendments became the law of the land.”
The ACLU even quotes Jefferson’s argument: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.”
To get the basics of Jefferson’s role in the creation of the Bill of Rights, which are, as I mentioned, a pretty important part of the Constitution, all you have to do is read the Spark Notes version. Or you can get it in easy Q&A format from the U.S. Archives.
Not to take anything away from Mr. Mastio, who did a righteous thing defending Ben Carson, but none of this is a secret, or hidden history. It’s not even deep-dive history. Anyone who has picked up a biography of Jefferson or Madison is well aware of this.
Apparently, the following news outlets – CNN, Politico, and the Washington Post – have not picked up that biography, or they are intentionally smearing Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson… again.
During a Monday appearance on C-Span, Carson said, quite correctly, that he admired Jefferson primarily for his role in helping to craft the Constitution:
But I’m particularly impressed with Thomas Jefferson, who seemed to have very deep insight into the way that people would react and tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people’s national tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.
The reaction from the DC Media on Twitter was not just instantaneously ignorant, it was fantastically ignorant. Within moments my Twitter stream was buried in smug reporters laughing and dehumanizing the black apostate conservative who doesn’t – har, har – know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Except, as Mr. Mastio points out, they are all wrong.
One-hundred percent wrong.
Rather than crack open a book or use that Google-thingy right in front of them, Politico, The Washington Post, and CNN actually went so far as to publish stories claiming Carson got it wrong.
Worse still, but to no one’s surprise, all three outlets have refused to properly correct their provable errors.
Politico’s Nolan McCaskill:
Carson says, wrongly, that Thomas Jefferson crafted the Constitution…
The problem: Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. In fact, Carson noted Jefferson’s absence in his book, “A More Perfect Union,” writing that he was “missing in action” during the birth of the Constitution as he served abroad as ambassador to France.
I’ve reached out to McCaskill to ask if he is going to correct his post. As of now, he has not responded. This is the same Politico that admitted to lying (only after being caught) about Carson’s West Point story.
CNN’s Gregory Krieg:
Carson flubs Thomas Jefferson’s role in the Constitution…
But as the Washington Post noted Monday morning, Jefferson was a no-show at the Constitutional Convention and was instead an ocean away in Paris as Minister to France, while his North American-based colleagues were crafting the foundational document.
I’ve reached out to Krieg to ask if he intends to correct his story. As of now, he has not yet responded. This is the same CNN that published racially-motivated serial lies about key elements in Carson’s biography.
Via Twitter, Mastio tells me CNN did update the piece. Nevertheless, the incorrect headline remains.
Washington Post’s Fred Barbash:
Ben Carson, author of book about the Constitution, incorrectly states that Thomas Jefferson crafted it…
That did not stop Carson from praising Jefferson in a C-Span interview Sunday as one of the most impressive of the Founding Fathers because he “tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control peoples’ natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”
I’ve reached out to Barbask to ask if he intends to correct his story. As of now, he has not responded. This is the same Washington Post that lied about Carson comparing Syrian refugees to rabid dogs.
When the entire media has risen up and proclaimed that This Is The Narrative, it cannot be easy for one of their own to say, “Actually, uhm, you’re 100% wrong.” The USA Today’s David Mastio deserves enormous credit for publishing the truth and doing so using the mockery deserved.
Never underestimate the capacity of the media to propagandize against Republicans.
That’s the theme of this morning’s overwrought news coverage on Dr. Ben Carson’s supposed “lie” regarding a “scholarship” to West Point. The story began with Politico, which ran with the audacious headline, “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship.” Even I was taken in by the headline – after all, that’s a pretty bold claim!
Politico began thusly:
Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The key word here is “fabricated.” Did the Carson campaign admit any such thing? Absolutely not. The facts reported by Politico don’t even support this interpretation of the Carson campaign’s response. According to Politico, Carson said in his 1992 memoir Gifted Hands that he was offered a “full scholarship” to West Point after dining with General William Westmoreland in 1969. Here’s the relevant passage from Carson’s autobiography:
At the end of my twelfth grade I marched at the head of the Memorial Day parade. I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, We had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present. More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point. I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going.
That’s the entire relevant portion of Carson’s account. He reiterated that account last month in an interview with Charlie Rose, when he said, “I was offered a full scholarship at West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland and go to Congressional Medal of Honor dinners. But decided really my pathway would be medicine.”
Politico followed up on this story. They reported one additional pieces of information that seem to conflict with Carson’s story: Carson never applied to West Point, and was never extended admission.
But Carson never said he applied. He said he was extended a full scholarship offer. What’s more, West Point doesn’t offer scholarships: all admission is free contingent on serving in the military afterwards. It thus seems probable that Westmoreland or another military figure tried to recruit Carson, telling him that he wouldn’t have to pay for his education – and that Carson read that as a “full scholarship,” and never applied.
In fact, that’s exactly what Carson’s campaign manager said to Politico in an email:
Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit. 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. 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.
But here’s how Politico editorialized: “When presented with this evidence, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.”
That’s nonsense. They did no such thing. They provided details that corroborated Carson’s story and explained his loose use of the language. If someone told you that you could go to college for free, you might reasonably conclude that you had been offered a full scholarship to attend that university. But Politico would call you a liar if you used such language to describe the exchange.
Now, some on the right are saying that Carson should be held to a higher standard here than other candidates because he’s running as an “outsider.” But this is a basic case of misinterpreting facts, not an outright lie. Carson served in ROTC. Prominent people wanted him to go to West Point. He wouldn’t have had to pay. He didn’t apply because he didn’t want to go. Those facts are not in dispute. It’s the specific wording over which media have decided to crucify him.
This is a textbook example of a left-wing media hit. Politico would never editorialize about any Democrat who issued such a response to a factual inquiry in this manner. Politico won’t even conclude that Hillary Clinton lied about her attribution of the Benghazi attacks to a YouTube video despite email evidence that she knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack entirely unrelated to a YouTube video.
But for Ben Carson, they’ll make an exception.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel of The Washington Post rightly points out this from Carson’s Facebook page circa August:
I was the highest student ROTC member in Detroit and was thrilled to get an offer from West Point. But I knew medicine is what I wanted to do. So I applied to only one school. (it was all the money I had). I applied to Yale and thank God they accepted me. I often wonder what might have happened had they said no.
Weigel also points out that Carson said as much in his book – the same book Politico quoted to pretend that Carson lied.
So Politico lied again – Carson never even claimed to have applied to West Point.
The Carson campaign has denied the Politico headline, of course, because the headline is factually untrue. They told The Daily Caller, “The Politico story is an outright Lie… The campaign never ‘admitted to anything.’ This is what we have come to expect from Politico.”
“The campaign never ‘admitted to anything,’” a spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to a hit by Politico claiming his campaign admitted to “fabricating” a key point about his West Point story.
“The Politico story is an outright Lie,” Doug Watts told TheDCNF.
Politico published a piece Friday claiming Carson’s campaign “admits fabricating” the fact that he applied and was admitted to West Point.
“Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” Kyle Cheney writes in the lede.
The Carson campaign disputes Politico’s unsubstantiated claim he ever claimed to have applied to West Point or been admitted: “He never said he was admitted or even applied.”
“This is what we have come to expect from Politico.”
Here is the full statement Watts provided to TheDCNF:
“Dr Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit. 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. 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. There are “Service Connected” nominations for stellar High School ROTC appointments. Again he was the top ROTC student in Detroit. I would argue strongly that an Appointment is indeed an amazing full scholarship. Having ran several Congressional Offices I am very familiar with the Nomination process.
Again though his Senior Commander was in touch with West Point and told Dr. Carson he could get in, Dr Carson did not seek admission.
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.
The campaign never “admitted to anything”
This is what we have come to expect from Politico.”
Politico reporter Kyle Cheney, who has the byline on the Carson story, did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.