Ben Carson

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  • Will Moderators Finally Discuss Voting Rights At Tonight's GOP Debate?

    Republican Candidates Have A Record Of Supporting Measures That Disenfranchise Communities Of Color

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Debate moderators at the nine Republican (and six Democratic) presidential primary debates so far have not asked a single question regarding voting rights or restrictive voter ID policies despite the Republican presidential candidates' long histories of supporting policies that undermine voting rights.

    The February 25 Republican debate, hosted by CNN and Telemundo, presents a particularly important opportunity to question candidates on their stances regarding voting rights, as it will be "the only RNC-sanctioned Republican debate broadcast by a Spanish-language network," catering to an audience that is likely familiar with voting rights discrimination.

    The absence of questions regarding Republican candidates' positions on voting rights and voter ID laws during the first nine Republican debates -- hosted by Fox News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC News, and CBS -- was especially jarring during the first one, which was hosted by Fox News on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

    While Democratic debate moderators have not asked questions about voting rights either, it is the Republican candidates who have a long history of undermining voting rights:

    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) supported a 2012 purge of voter rolls despite concerns that it disproportionately targeted minority and likely Democratic voters, and he "blew off" concerns about the impact of restrictive voter ID laws;
    • Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed off on legislation that rolled back voting rights by limiting early voting and eliminating same-day voter registration;
    • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) not only praised the Supreme Court for a resolution that weakened the Voting Rights Act, but also attempted to amend voter registration laws to require proof of citizenship before registration;
    • Dr. Ben Carson has given voter ID laws an "enthusiastic endorsement" in his book One Vote; and
    • Front-runner Donald Trump has baselessly speculated that the "voting system is out of control" saying that, in his opinion, people "are voting many, many times."

    Evidence strongly discredits the candidates' alarmist rhetoric about voter fraud and the need for voter ID laws, which disproportionately disenfranchise racial and ethnic minorities and economically disadvantaged voters. And experts agree that such laws tackle a "virtually non-existent" problem: Voter impersonation is "more rare than getting struck by lightning," data shows that the systems already put in place to verify voters actually work, and election experts have explained both that rare instances of double voting seldom turn out to be fraud and that they would not be prevented by strict voter ID laws.

    There is no shortage of questions moderators could ask Republican presidential candidates about voting rights, given their public support for measures that would make voting more difficult for minorities. Since Spanish-speaking media play a crucial role in informing the increasingly significant Latino vote, tonight's Telemundo debate presents an important opportunity to hold politicians accountable.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched the Time magazine transcripts of the August 6, 2015, September 16, 2015, November 11, 2015, and January 15, 2016, Republican debates, the Washington Post transcripts of the October 28, 2015, December 15, 2015, January 28, 2016, and February 13, 2016, Republican debates, and the CBS News transcript of the February 6, 2016, Republican debate, as well as the New York Times transcript of the October 14, 2015, Democratic debate, the Time magazine transcripts of the November 14, 2015, February 4, 2016, and February 11, 2016, Democratic debates, and the Washington Post transcripts of the December 19, 2015, and January 17, 2016, Democratic debates for the terms "voting rights," "voter ID," "disenfranchise," and "voter fraud."

  • Cruz, Carson To Attend Right-Wing Media Convention Featuring Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim Extremists

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson are scheduled to attend the National Religious Broadcasters' "Proclaim 16" Convention, which will run from February 23 to 26 in Nashville, TN. The annual convention has a history of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim content, and this year convention will feature three anti-LGBT hate groups, a panel sponsored by the Islamophobic extremist organization behind Trump's proposed Muslim ban, and multiple notoriously anti-gay extremist speakers.

  • Will Media Give Other Republicans A Pass On Trump-Like Anti-Muslim Rhetoric?

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media figures and outlets are strongly condemning Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But while Trump's rhetoric is extreme, it is not unique -- several other Republican candidates have extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric without receiving such "universal condemnation," as The New Republic noted.

  • The WSJ Illustrates How Conservative Talk Radio Is Informing The Republican Presidential Primary

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a November 23 post for the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog, Patrick O'Connor highlighted how the "anti-establishment" views of conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin "are informing the race for the Republican presidential nomination" as polls have found that "roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio."

    Right-wing radio hosts have repeatedly attacked 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, leading many in the media to assert that Bush has a "serious talk radio problem," and O'Connor noted that accordingly just 3% of "the most avid conservative talk-radio listeners" would vote for him. Conversely, O'Connor said right-wing talk radio listeners ranked Ben Carson and Donald Trump as their top choices, which is unsurprising given that the hosts have repeatedly supported the two candidates. Rush Limbaugh has praised Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, while Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have praised him as "refreshing" for being "willing to say things that no one else is saying." Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have all repeatedly defended Carson amid the candidate's controversial remarks and inconsistencies in his autobiographical claims.

    Despite the fact that Republicans once "touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters," O'Connor explained that "Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists." From O'Connor's post (emphasis added):

    Consider the folks who regularly tune in to conservative talk radio. These listeners expect a steady diet of Obama-bashing, so it's hardly surprising that not one surveyed for a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late October approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.

    That anger translates to how these Americans view the country as a whole. Some 98% think the country is headed in the wrong direction, a view regularly reinforced on the airwaves by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and other talk-radio hosts who don't have much nice to say about GOP leaders in Washington, either.

    A decade ago, Republicans touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters. Democrats and liberal groups tried to replicate that success by building their own left-leaning television and radio stations, with far less success.

    Now, the tables have turned. Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists, in part, because conservative radio hosts are almost as likely to rail against the party brass in Congress as they are to lament Mr. Obama's failings in the Oval Office.

    The most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carsonas their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the heir to the party's longest-standing political dynasty, and only a third of these voters said they were even open to voting for Mr. Bush, down from half in September.

    Republican presidential contenders would be unwise to write off this bloc; roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio, about 10 percentage points higher than the share of GOP primary voters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, according to the survey conducted by the Democrats at Hart Research Associates and the Republicans at Public Opinion Research.

  • Sunday Shows Challenge GOP Candidates Over Individuals On The Terror Watch List Being Able To Legally Purchase Guns

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    During the Sunday news shows on November 22, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all challenged by hosts over the fact that under current federal law, people who are on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list are not legally prohibited from buying guns. The questions over what is known as the "terror gap" followed widespread media discussion of legislation in Congress -- opposed by the National Rifle Association -- that would prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.

  • American Prospect Dismantles Right-Wing Media's "Liberal Bias" Accusation After Routine Vetting Of Ben Carson's Autobiography

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    The American Prospect's Paul Waldman debunked right-wing media who "continue to insist that only Republican candidates get scrutinized by the press." Right-wing media, Waldman writes, are following the lead of conservative candidates who cry liberal bias to "pla[y] on their supporters' sense of victimization and deflect away from the substance of the questions being asked."

    After routine vetting unearthed some inconsistencies in Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's biography, conservative media lashed out at outlets who looked into Carson's stories, claiming Democrats are not as thoroughly vetted or harshly criticized as Republicans. However, allegations of media bias when it comes to vetting presidential candidates have been thoroughly debunked.

    In a November 8 article for The American Prospect, Waldman pointed out that claims of liberal media bias, while "a longstanding belief in conservative circles," are "unencumbered by anything resembling evidence." Although Carson accused the media of "not only being unfair to him, but also of giving Barack Obama a free ride in 2008," Waldman recalled the media's intense scrutiny of Obama's connections to Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, digging up hundreds of relevant stories in 2008 by just The New York Times. Waldman further dissected claims of "liberal media bias," writing that "[c]onservatives' real objection isn't that these matters weren't investigated and discussed extensively in the press in 2008, but that Obama got elected anyway":

    Ben Carson now faces the intense scrutiny every front-running presidential candidate gets, and he doesn't like it one bit. Carson is now facing allegations that he has exaggerated, embellished, or even made up parts of his oft-told life story, not to mention extended discussion of his more outlandish statements. But to all this, Carson has a ready answer, one he knows will send conservative heads nodding in agreement: The liberal media is out to get me.

    In an unusually combative (for him) press conference on Friday, Carson charged the media not only with being unfair to him, but also of giving Barack Obama a free ride in 2008. "I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running," he said. "In fact, I remember just the opposite."

    This is a longstanding belief in conservative circles, but if you pay close attention you'll notice that it is unencumbered by anything resembling evidence. Nevertheless, other conservatives are rallying to Carson's side. National Review, for instance, brought all the sophisticated media analysis they could muster to his defense, arguing that all this pestering comes from "the same reporters who were not just incurious about the details of Barack Obama's background in 2008 but actively hostile to those who asked reasonable questions about his relationship with admitted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and his years of religious instruction from Jeremiah 'God Damn America' Wright."

    How terribly incurious those media were! Indeed, it's a wonder that anyone at National Review even knows who Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright are, given the media conspiracy in 2008 to hide their identities and connections to Obama ... by writing literally thousands of articles about them.

    I'm guessing you remember Wright and Ayers, too, because you heard about them quite a bit back then. Just to refresh my memory, I searched The New York Times -- a single newspaper, and the one conservatives consider the spear point of the liberal media -- for stories mentioning Jeremiah Wright between the beginning of 2008 and election day that year. Did they mention Wright at all? Dismiss him with an article or two so they could say they covered the story? Not exactly: In that campaign, Wright was mentioned in no fewer than 419 stories in the Times. William Ayers was mentioned in a mere 130 Times stories in 2008. That was some censorship campaign.

    But let's be honest: Conservatives' real objection isn't that these matters weren't investigated and discussed extensively in the press in 2008, but that Obama got elected anyway. They find it inconceivable that the voting public heard about Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, but still voted the way they did. So they assure assure themselves that if people had really grasped the true depths of Obama's villainy, there's no way he could have won.

    That's why in 2012, a conservative billionaire got together with a bunch of Republican strategists to mount an advertising campaign they were sure would bring Obama down. And the silver bullet? Jeremiah Wright. "The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way," read their plan. For the first time!

    Today, in the wake of one front-page story after another on Hillary Clinton's emails -- did you miss the widely ignored story on how there wasn't actually any highly classified material in them? -- conservatives continue to insist that only Republican candidates get scrutinized by the press. And why is that? The allegation certainly has political utility, since it plays on their supporters' sense of victimization and deflects the discussion away from the substance of the questions being asked. But it's more than that. They actually believe it.

    It's called the "hostile media effect," a well-established finding in communication research wherein people tend to see media coverage as hostile to their own point of view, particularly on politically charged subjects. You can show the same article on abortion or the Israel-Palestine conflict to people on either side of those issues, and they will all say the article was too favorable to the other side.

    It also applies to coverage that plays out over an extended period, like a presidential campaign. The coverage that seems perfectly fair to us doesn't stick in our memories like the stories that made us mad. And particularly when your candidate loses, you'll be motivated to construct a retrospective retelling of the campaign, in which he was the victim on an unjust media that withheld the truth from the voters.