Fox Candidate Ben Carson Denies 2016 Ambitions With A Wink And A Nod

Dr. Ben Carson, a surgeon who criticized President Obama over health care policy at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, was heavily promoted by Fox News for his conservative views before flaming out following controversial statements regarding gay marriage. But after news broke that a political action committee (PAC) had been formed to draft him to run for president, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren invited Carson on and asked him the “best reason” he should be president. Carson responded with what sounded suspiciously like a stump speech.

On August 22, Politico reported that a PAC had been registered as the “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.” According to Politico, the group was formed to urge “the neurosurgeon and Obamacare critic to throw his hat into the ring for 2016.” That night, Fox's Greta Van Susteren hosted Carson to get his reaction. But first, Van Susteren asked Carson to “tell us, what would be the best reason for Dr. Ben Carson to be president and what would be the not-so best idea.” Carson responded by mentioning several times how he has traveled the country and spoken to “enormous” crowds about how America needs “common sense” and “somebody who can create a vision.”

Carson insisted that he was reluctant to run for president, an act which itself has become a signal of presidential ambitions. Speculation about Carson's plans are even stronger when placed in context of his 2012 book, recent speaking engagements, and television appearances.

Carson was widely promoted by Fox News as a new conservative leader and possible 2016 contender after he criticized President Obama during his keynote address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where Carson made conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, and the national debt. The hosts of Fox & Friends attempted to recruit him to run for president. Sean Hannity asked Carson directly if he would run for president, before declaring, “I would vote for you in a heartbeat.” Hannity even devoted an hour-long show to promoting Ben Carson as the man who is “saving America.” This campaign for Carson eventually prompted Fox's Eric Bolling to criticize conservatives for “desperately” pushing him to run. 

While Fox has often attempted to rehabilitate conservative candidates and media figures -- most recently former Fox employee and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Carson may be unique in that the comments that got him in trouble came out of his frequent Fox appearances. While making the rounds on the network, Carson stumbled into controversy when he compared marriage equality advocates to supporters of pedophilia and bestiality, later both apologizing and attacking his critics. Carson's own colleagues at Johns Hopkins University called his remarks “nasty, petty, and ill-informed,” and he was ultimately forced to step down as a 2013 commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins.

Fox has a history of heavily promoting its own hand-picked candidates. The network has advocated at various points for the election of Sarah Palin, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Scott Brown, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff Paul Babeu.