8 Nov '14     home | more politics

Journalists and Dr. Carson

Journalists, in the discourse business, are obliged to get it right, and they do well when they ask questions to better understand the thinking behind what someone has said.

This last Friday, CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked Dr Ben Carson,

Do you mean that if Fox News didn't exist, we'd be a communist country?

She was referring to a statement Carson made at the Nixon Library in October 2014:

Even if all the media tries to shut you down – which they have tried very much to do with me, but they can't because the good Lord has provided me with mechanisms like my syndicated column and like Fox News. We'd be Cuba if there were no Fox News, I ought to tell you."

In Response to Camerota, rather than clarify or elaborate on his Cuba comment, Carson said,

No. Again, there you go with sensationalism. That's what you try to do.

As a journalist Camerota was asking a legitimate question. Carson was not necessarily in error in seeing it as a reach for the sensational. But so what? Sensational is what most television journalists do. Perhaps she wanted to make Carson look a ridiculous. Perhaps she was playing "gotcha," but Carson went off track, in my opinion, by portraying himself as a victim and attacking Camerota, accusing her of hoping "somehow" that her question would "resonate with people who don't think for themselves." I can't imagine Camerota formulating her question with the idea that it would be appropriate for people who "don't think for themselves."

Carson began his campaign calling on us to respect others and to engage in intelligent conversation – a challenge, especially regarding politics. More than just having a conversation, Carson is trying to promote a political philosophy – a worldview that includes God on his side – apart from his training as a neurosurgeon. It appears that he wants more than just communication, and he is over-reacting, losing his cool. Rather than just defending himself with facts he is whining about the "mainstream media" trying to destroy him.

Comments on the Camerota-Carson exchange in the Huffington Post make interesting reading and don't indicate that Carson is helping himself. Maybe Huffington Post readers are mostly the "secular progressives" Carson has been complaining about.

Three conservative journalists together as guests on CNN the next day, perhaps supporting a rival candidate, found nothing wrong with Alisyn Camerota's question. They just want the media to be equally inquisitive with Democrats.

Sara Murray, a political reporter at CNN, tweeted on the 6th, "It's amazing how offended candidates like @RealBenCarson are by the presidential vetting process. Welcome to the big leagues."

Despite scrutiny of Carson by the mainstream media, Carson today is described as leading in Iowa. One of three Republican conservative guests on CNN said she expected Carson to begin falling.

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