Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix

Ben Carson's defense of Donald Trump's lewd video may be the worst yet

By Aaron Blake

October 11, 2016 at 2:53 PM

At this point, it's not at all clear why Donald Trump's campaign keeps dispatching Ben Carson as a surrogate. His campaign has plenty of bad surrogates, mind you, but it's hard to think of one who so consistently generates Carson's volume of unintentional headlines.

The former presidential candidate's attempted defense Tuesday of Trump's comments in that 2005 video that The Washington Post reported last week is awkward, poorly conceived and just all-around bad. After stumbling through about two minutes of trying to say Trump's comments were inexcusable and that he's not dismissing them — but also that it's not really that big a deal — Carson is asked whether he knows people who talk like Trump did on that video. Carson says he does.

Then things took an . . . unexpected turn:

CARSON: I'm surprised you haven't heard that [kind of talk]. I really am.

BRIANNA KEILAR: I haven't heard it, and I know a lot of people who have not heard it. And I think they were shocked . ..

CARSON: Well, maybe that's the problem. (PAUSE) Maybe that's the problem — you know, people have not heard this . ..

KEILAR: The problem is that I haven't . . .?

(PAUSE)

CARSON: Maybe that's the problem. But whether they've heard it or not, the issue is the train that's going off the cliff. We can come back after we save the country — after we keep the train from going off the cliff. And I would welcome, quite frankly, a discussion of morality in this country. I think it would be a wonderful thing if we bring back our Judeo-Christian values. I think it could do nothing but help us. I would be all in favor of that.

So, to recap: Carson says the problem might be that not enough people are exposed to lewd and sexually aggressive "locker room talk." He also believes there is not enough morality in this country. Both of those things.

Update: Carson made a similar case at a forum on Monday night at a WJLA-TV panel featuring The Fix's own Amber Phillips.

"Well, I certainly remember as I was growing up hearing this kind of banter all the time -- people trying to make themselves into the big man with their sexual exploits and things that were much worse than this," he said. "So I guess people who never heard this before and have very delicate, sensitive ears -- maybe it's a big deal. That doesn't mean its right. Unfortunately, it's common place and we do need to work -- I've said it all along -- we do need to work on our morals and our values in this country once again. It's a major, major problem. But this has so little to do with the real issue."


Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix.

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