Dr. Benjamin Carson is the latest in a long line of black conservatives -- from Clarence Thomas to Herman Cain -- relentlessly promoted and propped up by right-wing voices in the media. After Carson used a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in front of President Obama to trumpet conservative arguments about economics and health care, News Corp. properties rushed to anoint him as the newest political “star.” Fox News and Fox Business hosted Carson eight times in the days following his speech, and he has been praised by Fox personalities as a courageous leader who is “saving America” and by the Wall Street Journal in an editorial headlined, “Ben Carson For President.”
Carson Was Lauded By Conservatives After Using Speech Alongside Obama To Push Right-Wing Ideology On Taxes, Health Care
At The National Prayer Breakfast, Carson Called For Flat Tax, Conservative Health Care Policy. In his keynote address at the February 7 National Prayer Breakfast -- delivered steps from President Obama, who was seated at the head table -- Carson made conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, and the national debt. The Atlantic's David A. Graham wrote:
Carson delivered an opening shot against “political correctness,” and then - after namechecking Tocqueville, recapping his own inspirational life story, and calling for a better education system -- voiced concern about the national debt and argued the case for a flat tax, using the Bible's injunction to tithe a set percentage, and for health-savings accounts, a medical option that hasgained currency among conservatives. Crucially, he delivered this speech from a podium just feet from President Obama, who of course oversaw the passage of a very different health-care plan and has been a major proponent of progressive taxation. Obama, as he often does, remained somewhere between impassive and bored-looking. It's fair to say he didn't seem to be enjoying himself. [TheAtlantic.com, 2/19/13]
Carson Is A Successful Surgeon With A History Of Promoting Conservative Ideas And Supporting Republicans. Carson was named director of pediatric neurosurgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33, the youngest to ever lead a major division. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush in 2008. A longtime critic of President Obama's health care law and an avowed creationist, Carson was approached to be the Republican candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor in 2010 and donated $1,000 to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012. [Baltimore Sun, 2/18/13; TheAtlantic.com, 2/19/13; OpenSecrets.org, accessed 2/20/13]
TheAtlantic.com's Graham: “It's Impossible To Pretend There's No Racial Dimension Involved In A Successful Black Conservative Castigating The Liberal Black President.” Graham wrote of the conservative movement's response to the speech:
Though many commentaries have tried tiptoe around it, it's impossible to pretend there's no racial dimension involved in a successful black conservative castigating the liberal black president. Black conservatives remain fascinating to Americans of all political persuasions and ethnicities; look no further than Herman Cain's presidential campaign. And in the age of Obama -- when many on the right feel that any criticism of the president is liable to draw undeserved claims of racism -- a champion for the cause who can sidestep that retort is sure to be welcomed. Jonah Goldberg came closest to addressing this question, likening Carson to Booker T. Washington. [TheAtlantic.com, 2/19/13]
TheGrio.com's Joy Reid: “If You Want To Be Ben Carson” Or Any Minority “Willing To Say Conservative Stuff, This Is Your Moment.” In an interview on MSNBC, Reid said that “there is big career advancement” for minorities in being conservative, explaining that they “can make a lot of money, get a lot of attention, get a lot of love from the right, because they really do need brown and black faces to start saying this script.” From the February 13 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
REID: This is the complication of being a minority conservative.
Right now, first of all, there is a huge boom in it there is a big career advancement in it. If you want to be Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, any brown or black person who is willing to say conservative stuff, this is your moment. You can make a lot of money, get a lot of attention, get a lot of love from the right, because they really do need brown and black faces to start saying this script.
But the problem is in order to fit in as a minority conservative, you really almost have to be even further to the right than typical conservatives. You have to mouth verbatim all of the party`s beliefs, because if you stray one bit, you are held in suspicion. So Rubio is caught in that matrix. [MSNBC's The Ed Show, 2/13/13, via Nexis]
Wall Street Journal Kicked Off News Corp.'s Cheerleading: “Ben Carson For President”
The Day After Carson's Speech, WSJ Urged Readers To “Make Time To Watch The Video Of Dr. Ben Carson.” The Wall Street Journal published a February 8 editorial headlined, “Ben Carson for President.” The piece encouraged readers “to watch the video of Dr. Ben Carson speaking to the White House prayer breakfast” and highlighted Carson's ideas on the flat tax and health care. [Wall Street Journal, 2/8/13]
Over The Next Week, Fox News Celebrated “Amazing” “Star” Carson For Refuting President Obama's Ideology To His Face
Hannity To Carson: “Would You Ever Run For President, Sir? ... I Would Vote For You In A Heartbeat.” During an interview on his Fox News program, Hannity told Carson that he would vote for him if he ever ran for president.
[Fox News, Hannity, 2/8/13]
Guilfoyle: “A World Renowned Doctor Steals The Show From President Obama.” Fox News' The Five led its February 8 program with Carson's speech. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle began by stating, “A world renowned doctor steals the show from President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Blasting the president's agenda right in front of him. It's a speech that's caught a lot of people's attention. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Benjamin Carson.” During the segment, co-host Eric Bolling said of Carson's speech: “That guy has a lot of guts. And his ideas are right. ... I thought it was fantastic.” Co-host Greg Gutfeld said that Carson “spoke truth to power.”
[Fox News, The Five, 2/8/13]
Carlson: “This Guy's A Star.” Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson said Carson's life and positions are a “living refutation to the entire Obama program” and “he will be in some way involved in the national political conversation.”
[Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 2/9/13]
Varney Praises Carson's Tax Argument: “I Fully Agree With It.” Fox Business host Stuart Varney praised Carson for his position that enacting the flat tax is moral and that progressive taxation and the current tax code is immoral.
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/11/13]
Bolling: “This Man Is Brilliant. This Man Probably Should Be In The Next Administration Whether It's Democrat Or Republican.” The Five co-host Eric Bolling said of Carson: “This man is brilliant. This man probably should be in the next administration whether it's Democrat or Republican, doesn't matter. He should be chief of staff, somewhere, making the decisions. I don't think he should be president.” Co-host Greg Gutfeld replied that while there might not be a groundswell for him to be president, it's “refreshing that somebody is saying what we all think.”
[Fox News, The Five, 2/11/13, via Nexis]
Payne: “Amen ... This Is What I Was Saying.” Fox Business contributor Charles Payne lauded Carson's speech, focusing on Carson's remarks about taxation and contrasting them with Obama's supposedly “disingenuous” arguments.
[Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/11/13]
Smith: “Hallelujah. Amen. I Don't Think That Anybody Could Have Said It Better.” Fox Business reporter Sandra Smith praised Carson's speech on Varney & Co.
[Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/11/13]
Doocy: “He's Fantastic.” At the conclusion of a segment about Carson's speech, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy praised Carson as “fantastic.”
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/12/13]
Ablow: Carson “Enunciated A Treatment Plan That Could Save The Life Of This Nation.” Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow praised Carson in a FoxNews.com column, claiming that he “need not apologize to President Obama. The surgeon made his diagnosis. He enunciated a treatment plan that could save the life of this nation. And anyone who argues that he should have held his tongue out of 'respect' doesn't understand that telling the truth to a man, however powerful, is still the ultimate form of respect.” [FoxNews.com, 2/14/13]
Fox News “Top Story” : “Ben Carson For President? That Is The Buzz.” During Fox News' America's News HQ, correspondent Doug Luzader summarized one of the day's purported “top stories” by stating: “Ben Carson for president? That is the buzz after his provocative speech at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama watching. The surgeon and motivational speaker spoke out on health care, taxes, and political correctness.” Anchor Shannon Bream replied: “Alright, he's sparking a lot of conversation.”
[Fox News, America's News HQ, 2/17/13]
Fox Nation: “WATCH: Amazing Conservative Speech Upstages Obama At Prayer Breakfast.” Fox Nation promoted Carson's prayer breakfast speech in a February 12 post. Fox Nation linked to The Washington Times, which ran the similar headline, “Conservative Dr. Ben Carson speech upstages Obama at prayer breakfast” :
[Fox Nation, 2/12/13]
Fox Nation: “Dr. Carson Lets It Rip.” Fox Nation summarized a February 18 radio appearance by Carson with the headline, “Dr. Carson Lets It Rip” :
[Fox Nation, 2/19/13]
Carson Appeared On Fox News And Fox Business Eight Times After His Speech
Numerous Fox Programs Gave Carson A Platform After His National Prayer Breakfast Speech. Fox News and Fox Business not only heavily promoted Carson and his speech in numerous segments, but they also frequently hosted him. According to a search of Nexis, TVEyes.com, and Media Matters' internal archives, Carson appeared on Fox News and Fox Business eight times in the days after his February 7 speech. Carson appeared on the following programs: Hannity, Fox News, 2/8/13; Fox & Friends Sunday, Fox News, 2/10/13; Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News, 2/11/13; Money with Melissa Francis, Fox Business, 2/11/13; Varney & Co., Fox Business, 2/12/13; Fox & Friends, 2/13/13;Hannity, Fox News, 2/15/13; The Tom Sullivan Show, Fox Business, 2/16/13.
Fox's Carson Support Concluded With An Hour-Long Hannity Special Celebrating Carson As The Anti-Obama
Hour-Long Hannity Special Promotes Carson As Someone “Saving America.” Sean Hannity devoted his February 15 “special audience edition” of Hannity to Carson and his prayer breakfast remarks. Hannity introduced Carson as “somebody who had the Internet buzzing following his remarks at last week's National Prayer Breakfast.” Hannity said Carson “eloquently and politely described his vision for saving America.” Hannity's special ran with the title, “Saving America,” and frequently touted Carson as a potential political candidate.
[Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
Hannity: Carson Had The “Courage To Stand Up And Issue A Rebuttal To The President And His Divisive Class Warfare Rhetoric.” Hannity said of Carson during the introduction of a segment:
HANNITY: All right. Finally, after months, if not years, of hearing President Obama lecture the so-called rich about paying their fair share. Well, somebody finally had the courage to stand up and issue a rebuttal to the President and his divisive class warfare rhetoric. Now, it came when Dr. Benjamin Carson issued a forceful challenge to the President's liberal approach to last week's national prayer breakfast.
But unlike so many politicians in Washington, the doctor's comments were much more than meaningless bluster. He actually backed them up with facts and policy proposals including a flat tax. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
Luntz: “The Words Of Benjamin Carson Have Really Struck A Chord With A Lot Of Americans.” Republican pollster Frank Luntz surveyed “a group of swing voters” for their reaction to Carson's speech and whether they felt he would be a popular political candidate. Luntz concluded: “There is something about the doctor's message and delivery that really does connect across partisan lines, very impressive.” Hannity responded to Luntz: “All right, sounds like Frank may have found some, well, Carson campaign volunteers.”
[Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
Hannity To Audience: “How Many Of You Would Like To See Dr. Carson Run? Wow, OK, That's Everybody.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
Borelli To Carson: “Thank You For Your Leadership ... The Black Liberal Establishment Is Not Going To Be Happy With You.” Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli told Carson during Hannity's special: “Dr. Carson, I want to thank you for your leadership. But you do know that the black liberal establishment is not going to be happy with you. And I'm talking about the community activists, some of the pastors, some of the politicians and the black media because it's your story of success that they don't want communicated to the black community because they thrive on talking about blacks are victims and need special treatment. So I want to thank you for all you are doing for your leadership because we need more leaders such as yourself to communicate this story that America really is an exceptional country.”
[Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
Smith To Carson: “It's Been An Absolute Pleasure” Listening To You Speak. Fox Business reporter Sandra Smith asked Carson during the special: “I think that one of the biggest questions after listening to you tonight, it's been an absolute pleasure, is have we gone too far? Do you think that America can come back from where we are today?”
[Fox News, Hannity, 2/15/13]
TV Critic Zurawik On Hannity Special: “This Is Fox Trying To Give Birth To A New Star On The Right -- Showing Him How Grand Life Can Be If He Is Willing To Play Ball.” Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik criticized Fox News for its “hour-long, full-right-wing, all-out, let's-give-a-big-big-hug coronation” of Carson as an antidote to President Obama. Zurawik added that he has “tremendous admiration for [Carson] ... I hope Dr. Carson doesn't let political users like Fox compromise the greatness he and [his employer John] Hopkins have achieved together.” [Baltimore Sun, 2/16/13]