Ben Carson has been a standout TV surrogate for Donald Trump — but not in the way the Trump campaign might have hoped.
In the months since he endorsed the Republican presidential nominee, Carson has said — among many, many other headline-grabbing moments — that he would have “preferred” a different candidate atop the GOP ticket, and that even if Trump turns out to be a bad president, America would only be stuck with him for four years.
His interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday was so bad that it just might be the worst of the 2016 campaign.
Discussing allegations that surfaced this week about Trump’s treatment of women, Carson raised questions about the story told by Jessica Leeds, a woman who said in the New York Times on Wednesday that Trump groped her on a flight in the early 1980s. MSNBC’s Katty Kay pushed Carson on whether he was accusing Leeds or Trump’s other accusers of making up their stories. That’s when it all went off the rails.
“Are you saying that these women are lying?” Kay asked bluntly. Carson accused Kay of trying to make him look bad, calling it “your characterization.” Kay and Joe Scarborough, one of the show’s hosts, pushed back, and the whole thing devolved into what any transcriber would rightly call “crosstalk.”
That is, until Carson asked that Kay’s microphone be turned off.
That’s a bad look for Carson for two reasons: The first is that Kay’s question was a pretty simple one. Trump surrogates have repeatedly and clearly attempted to delegitimize his accusers and their accusations. But the second is the subject matter itself: The optics of a male Trump surrogate attempting to silence a female TV commentator who is asking basic questions about alleged sexual assault victims are unquestionably not positive for the Trump campaign.
We would call it the highlight of Carson’s 2016 media career — but there is still over three weeks left.