In an appearance on Fox News this morning, Ben Carson found himself in something of a meta moment. The top-tier Republican presidential candidate has had to defend his comments that if he’d been a target of a mass shooter — such as last week’s massacre in Oregon — he would “not just stand there and let him shoot me.” “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'” Pressed again on this matter, Carson later said, “I would ask everybody to attack the gunman . . . that way we don’t all wind up dead,” before chuckling.
Now Martha MacCallum was asking Carson to defend his chuckling in his defense of his original remarks. “I was chuckling at the silly reporters for not being able to understand such a simple concept,” said Carson. That simple concept, he said, is that if someone is going to “systematically kill you one by one, why would you sit there and wait for them to do that?”
Perhaps referring to the media, Carson lectured MacCallum, “We’re living in a culture now where you have a group of people who just sit there. They don’t try to listen to what you’re saying. They’re just trying to find a defect so they can cause more division,” said Carson.
Bold text added to highlight one truth: Yes, the media — if those are the people Carson is ripping here — are trying to “find a defect,” a process that applies not only to Carson but also to every other candidate who starts surging in the polls. Just ask Hillary Clinton supporter David Brock. Defect-finding is a good thing.
The problem with Carson’s comments isn’t just that they’re second-guessing the reactions of community college students facing down a heavily armed murder machine; it’s also that they’re ill-informed, too. On the excellent show “CBS This Morning,” co-host Norah O’Donnell asked Carson straight-up: “Do you know who Chris Mintz is?” Carson responded no. Dear Dr. Carson, please fire whomever it is should be briefing you on stuff.
O’Donnell did the campaign’s work, explaining to the candidate, “So Chris Mintz is an Army veteran and he was shot seven times, he did actually rush the shooter . . . he saved people’s lives.” Instead of apologizing for his poor understanding of this widely reported dimension of the Umpqua Community College tragedy, Carson said that Mintz’s case “verifies what I’m saying; that’s exactly what should be done.”
In her chat with Carson, MacCallum asked whether the candidate needed to pay greater heed to how he frames his arguments. “I don’t think so, actually,” responded Carson. “I think people know exactly what I’m saying and they know exactly what the media is trying to do.” Those remarks come on top of Carson’s assertion that he now “assumes” that media questioners have an “agenda,” not to mention another comment in which Carson ripped the media for their reaction to his comments about Muslims’ suitability for the presidency.
As O’Donnell’s cross-examination suggests, Carson would be well advised to interrupt his bashing of the media by consuming a bit more media.