Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson admonished the Washington press corps Friday, calling the news media “embarrassing” and “insincere” and vowing to “expose” the institutional bias he says runs rampant.
Speaking at a gathering of reporters and communications professionals at the National Press Club in Washington, Carson lashed out at the press, citing several instances where he believes his views have been misrepresented.
“Many in the press will say I’m sensitive and that I should not be thinking about running for office, because I get offended by what they do,” he said. “But the reason I expose the press is because I want the people of America to understand what they’re doing. It’s not because I’m sensitive.”
“I will continue to expose them every time they do something, so that as more people understand what they are and what they’re doing, it will negate their affect,” he said. “Until they have the kind of transformation that’s necessary for them to become allies of the people, we have to know what they’re doing.”
Carson’s frustration with the press is boiling over as the presidential candidate, who is soaring in the polls and raising tens of millions of dollars from grassroots conservatives, has battled weeks of controversial headlines.
Carson believes his views on guns and religion have been intentionally distorted by reporters eager to sink his presidential hopes.
“The good thing is that a lot of people in America are on to them and understand what they’re trying to do, and that’s one of the reasons we’re doing well,” Carson said. “It seems like the more they attack me, the better we do.”
This week, Carson said that if he had been at Umpqua Community College, the site of a recent mass shooting, he would have stood up to the gunman. Many people interpreted the remarks to mean that the victims didn’t do enough to protect themselves.
Carson this week also called for arming officials on school grounds, described an encounter with a gunman at a Popeye’s restaurant and said that the Holocaust would have been less likely if the Jews in Germany had been armed.
Carson on Friday defended his remarks on the Holocaust but said that in several other instances, his words had been taken out of context or overblown.
“Everything needs to be looked at in context, and when news media picks one word or one phrase and they run with it and try to characterize people like that, I gotta tell you guys, that’s why people don’t trust you anymore,” he said. “I mean you’re down there with used car salesmen.”
Carson also recalled an encounter with a reporter that led to a story about him being unprepared to deal with the threat of a hurricane.
Carson said he was getting on a bus when he was approached by the reporter and didn’t have time to answer in full.
“I mean, this is the level of insincerity that we see, and it really is kind of embarrassing to see that,” Carson said.
Carson said he’s a frequent target for attacks because as a black Republican, doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional conservative and therefore is viewed as a threat to the liberal order.
He said there’s “still hope for the press” but that they must be called out on their hypocrisies in the hopes “that some of them will recognize it’s almost a sacred obligation they have to the people, to be honest.”
“There is only one business in America that is protected by the Constitution, and that is the press, and there was a reason for that. It was because the press was supposed to be an ally of the people," Carson said.
"They were supposed to expose and inform the people in a nonpartisan way. When they become partisan, as they are, they distort the system as it was supposed to work, and they allow the side that they pick to get away with all kinds of things.”