Fox News has hired Dr. Ben Carson as a contributor after months of hyping his views, touting him as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, repeatedly hosting him, and defending his bigoted statements.
Carson has been named a contributor to Fox News and will make his first appearance in that capacity on the October 9 edition of The Kelly File. Fox Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes said that Carson has a “broad perspective on what's going on in the country” and will make “a major contribution to our network.”
Carson was an award-winning neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, an author, and a speaker. He is now “professor emeritus of neurosurgery” at Johns Hopkins University. After making conservative arguments about health care, tax policy, “political correctness” and national debt at the National Prayer Breakfast, Carson became a favorite of the conservative media, especially Fox News.
After the prayer breakfast, a Wall Street Journal editorial floated the idea of “Ben Carson for President.” Soon after that Carson appeared on Hannity, where the host asked him if he would run for the office and declared that he “would vote for [Carson] in a heartbeat.” Hannity devoted an hour-long special to Carson, describing him as a person who was “saving America.” Baltimore Sun tv critic David Zurawik described the program as an “hour-long, full-right-wing, all out, let's-give-a-big-hug coronation.”
Other Fox programs cranked up the hype. The Five hosts said he "[stole] the show from President Obama," “caught a lot of people's attention,” “has a lot of guts,” was “brilliant,” and “spoke truth to power.” On Fox & Friends, contributor Tucker Carlson called him “a star.” Fox Nation hailed him for “upstag[ing] Obama” at the breakfast and “let[ting] it rip.”
Fox News continued to push the “Carson for President” hype, as contributor Keith Ablow hailed Carson for detailing “a treatment plan that could save the life of this nation.” Fox soon began reporting on the hype it had created, touting as a “top story” the supposed “buzz” behind a Carson presidential run.
In the middle of his spin in the Fox cycle, Carson stumbled. In a March 26 appearance on Hannity, during a discussion of efforts to overturn bans on same-sex marriage, Carson said, “No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are -- they don't get to change the definition.”
Carson's comments were not completely out of character. He had previously claimed that marriage equality could destroy America like the “fall of the Roman Empire.”
Johns Hopkins students circulated a petition calling for his removal as their commencement speaker at the School of Medicine, and colleagues at the school described his comments as “hurtful” and “extremely discouraging.” Carson first apologized, then described his critics as “racist.”
He eventually stepped down from his speaking role at the commencement.
In subsequent Fox appearances, Carson continued to allow Fox personalities to float the possibility of him running for higher office, without directly denying it.
In March, Carson told the Washington Post that he wanted a television position after leaving Johns Hopkins, telling the writer, “maybe if you write about it in your article, somebody will say, 'Let's do it'.”
Fox has done it.