DES MOINES, Iowa — Dr. Ben Carson railed on Wednesday against the dishonesty he says he’s faced at the hands of the media and rival Donald Trump in the presidential bid.
“He was very dishonest,” Carson said of Trump’s attacks on his personal story after reporters struggled to corroborate some of the former neurosurgeon's more extraordinary rags-to-riches anecdotes. “He acts like a politician. Politicians do things that are politically expedient.”
Speaking at the Bloomberg Politics Breakfast here, Carson said that while Trump might have been his loudest attacker, other candidates “sent subterranean missiles” to attack him too, spreading rumors to deride him.
“One of the reasons that I got into this race is that I’m disgusted with the level of dishonesty and the lack of integrity,” he said. “People have come to accept it and say it’s part of the normal process. It’s not part of the normal process, and we shouldn’t accept it.”
The remarks were part of a lengthy monologue against what Carson sees as a dishonest media pushing reports that poked holes in his personal story. He argued that it all contributed to his fall from a onetime polling lead here in Iowa, where he is now in third or fourth place. Carson then went on to bring up story after story that he felt was unfair, offering evidence he said proved he was right.
"They came out with the West Point story, and interestingly enough, they said General Westmoreland was not there in May. Well, he was there in February — and he was there for the Congressional Medal of Honor dinner, just like I said. ... So we were off a couple months, big deal. It was 50 years ago," he said. "But did anybody came back and correct that story? Anybody know of anyone who came back to correct the story? Not a single one." (The original Politico story Carson referenced noted that Westmoreland was in Detroit in February, and many outlets, including MSNBC, did actually report Carson's explanation of the timing discrepancy after the fact.)
“That level of dishonesty in the press should be something that should concern all of you guys,” the Republican candidate said.
Throughout the breakfast, Carson pushed back on media questions and suggested repeatedly that the assembled reporters were dishonest. He questioned whether this reporter knew who Joseph Stalin was before referencing him. (The answer: Yes. Carson's response? “You young people these days, I don’t know.") The candidate then asked Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich if she was “one of those radical left liberals” after she pressed him on a question about the role of government.
“I’m a question asker is what I am,” she responded.
With reference to the caucuses on Monday, Carson asked the reporters to vow to stop manipulating people when he does better than expected.
"I want you to say, 'you know what? We pundits are wrong. We don't know what we're talking about. And we are going to admit. And from now on, we're not even going to try to manipulate the people's opinions. We're just going to report the news as it is.' If you guys would do that, that would be a great picture right there!" he said cheerfully.
As the breakfast ended, and the embargo lifted, Carson made one final request.
“Tweet truth,” he added with a big grin.