Ben Carson speaks to reporters during a news conference on Friday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (Alan Diaz/Associated Press)

WASHINGTON LET out a collective “you’re kidding me” on Monday following a weekend of complaints from Ben Carson, arguably the latest front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Aggrieved at questions about the accuracy of claims he has made about his past, Mr. Carson lashed out at the media on Sunday. “I have always said that I expect to be vetted,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “But being vetted and what is going on with me, ‘You said this 30 years ago, you said this 20 years ago, this didn’t exist’ — you know, I just, I have not seen that with anyone else.”

The Post’s James Hohmann, among others, pointed out that Mr. Carson must not have been paying much attention to the past several decades of U.S. politics. Ask anyone from Gary Hart to Hillary Clinton about media scrutiny of his or her biographical claims. Yet there is more to Mr. Carson’s complaint than the amount of scrutiny he has seen. Implied is the notion that these questions are illegitimate as well as unusual. This is also wrong.

Mr. Carson’s suspect reminiscences, Ms. Clinton’s e-mail server and a range of other stories that have emerged about the dealings and assurances of various candidates speak to broader elements of character and trustworthiness that are very much in the public interest to explore.

Ms. Clinton’s e-mail setup required the public simply to trust that she and her team of lawyers turned over every document relevant to her official duties at the State Department. Even if they did so in good faith, the decision to put the public — and herself — in such a position was a mistake that makes one wonder about her respect for public records and transparency, not to mention her judgment.

Mr. Carson’s false claim that he was offered a full scholarship to West Point, among other statements, makes one wonder about his honesty and self-regard. His history is already compelling. He pulled himself up to become a world-renowned surgeon. Even so, he apparently felt the need to claim more glory. Moreover, his defense — that “I was told that someone like me — they could get a scholarship to West Point” — comes at the expense of the institution and its rigorous admissions policies. For someone who bases his campaign on not being a typical politician, this sounds a lot like the sort of embellishment we’ve seen from other preening public figures.

The whole episode is notable not for what is different about Mr. Carson and his treatment — but about what is the same. When you are running for president, it generally has mattered whether you tell the truth. We hope it still does.