The Media Outlets That Haven't Fired Ben Carson

Out At Fox Over 2016 Bid, He's Still On Board At Washington Times, Creators Syndicate

UPDATE

After the publication of this post, David Yontz, managing editor of Creators Syndicate, responded to Media Matters' request for comment about Carson. 

Yontz said that though Fox News had cut ties with Carson, Creators will not make a decision until he officially announces his presidential plans.

“Given the Fox thing, I don't think we're concerned about that, but he hasn't officially announced yet, it is looking likely he is going to run. But once he officially announces, we most likely will stop syndicating it, we just have to come up with a solution as to what to do, at that time.”

“It is on our radar, we are thinking of solutions once that does happen. As of right now we are going to keep syndicating the column until further notice.”

ORIGINAL POST: 

Dr. Ben Carson was reportedly dropped as a Fox News contributor over his apparent plans to run for president. But that prospective 2016 bid, which has included a biographical documentary produced by his business manager, is apparently not enough for the Washington Times or Creators Syndicate to sever relations with the surgeon-turned-political commentator.

Fox News ended its contract with Carson last month shortly before the release of A Breath of Fresh Air, an hour-long documentary that aired on 37 television stations as a paid program in early November. The film was widely viewed as a way to boost Carson's profile for a 2016 Republican presidential bid.

Despite that, Carson is still listed as  “founding publisher”  on the masthead of the Times' digital magazine, American Currentsee. Creators Syndicate has also kept its arrangement with Carson, distributing his column to newspapers across the country, including the Times.

American Currentsee, which is targeted at “conservative blacks,”  is overseen by executive editor Armstrong Williams, who is also Carson's business manager and whose production company made the Carson documentary. The digital magazine, which is wildly supportive of Carson, often carries columns from both Carson and Williams. It recently devoted an entire issue to the topic, “Is Ben Carson in? How he could lead, how he could win.”

Williams, whose own syndicated column is also carried by the Times, said Carson has not announced for president and until he does he has the right to write as he pleases.

“He's a syndicated columnist, he's not running for president, in fact I don't know anyone who has announced they are running for president, do you? Has anybody on the Democratic or Republican side that has announced for president,” Williams said in a phone interview. “You know what, as his business manager, the last thing I want him to do is run for president. But you know what? That's the American way. If you are 35 years old and if you're a U.S. citizen you can make a decision to run and the American people can make a decision on whether you're the best candidate for this country or not.”

Neither Creators, which syndicated Carson's most recent piece on December 3, nor The Washington Times have responded to requests for comment.

Williams claimed that the documentary that led to the termination of Carson's Fox News relationship should not affect Carson's Times connections or those he has with newspapers that run his column through Creators.

“That has to do with the fact that we aired a documentary that I produced and Fox News said it was a conflict with the contract and so we made a decision to air the documentary and they made a decision to cut ties. That was a business decision,” he said about the Fox issue. 

Fox News did not respond to requests for comment on its severing of relations with Carson. Fox media reporter Howard Kurtz reported shortly after the network's decision that the Carson documentary was “obviously the opening salvo in a likely presidential campaign,” adding that “a guy who's more or less running for president shouldn't be on a network payroll.”

The decision by other media outlets to maintain their relatioships with Carson is drawing criticism.  “It's definitely an ethical problem as far as I'm concerned,” David Zurawik, media reporter for the Baltimore Sun, told Media Matters. “Whatever the conditions and situation, the fact that he is no longer with Fox in light of that biographical film that debuted a couple of weeks ago should have told him that it's time to really sever all media ties if he's going to run for president. It's not okay to keep flirting with this.”

Williams said if and when Carson formally announces for president, then he would have to likely cut ties with the Times and others.

“Of course that would change if he decides to make that announcement, that's with any candidate, not just Dr. Carson,” Williams said. “There are certain ties you would have to cut because of FEC guidelines, the Federal Election Commission and certain ethical ... You don't want any ethical conflicts, any challenges or any sense of impropriety if you decide to run for president of the United States. I would hope that would be not just for Dr. Carson but for anybody who decides to run.”

Carson could not be reached for comment, and Williams told Media Matters,  “I would never have Dr. Carson talk to you right now.”