By Garth Kant
Media Matters has posted a “research article” claiming Dr. Benjamin Carson is just “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.”
The article, “Ben Carson’s Moment,” contains just a few original paragraphs and a slew of links to articles and videos.
Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, struck a chord with many Americans when he delivered a devastating critique of Obamacare at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, with President Obama seated a few feet away.
Though he already was the youngest head of a major division at Johns Hopkins, the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it was the prayer breakfast speech that catapulted him into headlines.
According to the Atlantic, he “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 has gained currency among conservatives. Crucially, he delivered this speech from a podium just feet from President Obama.”
Media Matters chose to focus on the surgeon’s race.
“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,’” Media Matters wrote.
The article contains clips of conservatives supportive of Carson. But it begins with a number of quotes questioning why a black would be conservative.
MSNBC commentator Joy Reid said: “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.”
The Atlantic’s David A. Graham also focused on race, writing “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,” he said. “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.”
Tweets posted by Media Matters echo the sentiment.
- “Righties love them some Ben Carson now”
- “Today, if you’re a racist, you’re almost certainly a Republican. Did you forget all of those “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012″ bumper stickers?”
- “But in the end a man known for his medical skills and brought in to speak at a (supposedly) religious event could not resist the spotlight, but had to grasp the opportunity to bash the president. In essence, I believe he sold out his profession and his faith for the chance to become a political “hero”. I hope he enjoys it, his 15 minutes are ticking.”
- “Apparently in the right-wing parallel dimension, anybody who in any possible way does anything negative towards the president is worthy of a rock star reception. It really is sad that after 8 years of insisting you couldn’t question the president, that they’ve now managed to make ‘hating on the president’ an industry in and of itself.”
President Bush awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. He made medical history in 1987 by becoming the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins who had been joined at the back of the head. He’s written more than 100 neurosurgical publications, four best-selling books and has 38 honorary doctorate degrees.
The liberal backlash isn’t limited to Carson. When Herman Cain joined Fox News, tweets by liberals targeted his race:
- “uncle tom is now a fox news contributer. makes sense. smh. did i say uncle tom? i meant herman coon. oops…cain, herman cain.”
- “So the buffoon Herman Cain is over there palling around with the likes of fox news! Birds of a feather! Ole Uncle Tom acting S.O.B.”
This is not the first time Media Matters has gone after a prominent black conservative.
It refers to former Congressman Allen West as “widely known for using slanderous, AM radio-style hate rants against Democrats.” “CBS ought to know better than to treat reckless name-callers (and freshman Congressmen) like West as a important voices in American politics.”
The website wants the media to go after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “…the public would be better served if the media reported that one justice on the Supreme Court has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be out of the court’s mainstream: Justice Clarence Thomas. Indeed, perhaps the media should be asking how progressive a new nominee has to be in order to counterbalance Thomas.”
Economist and columnist Thomas Sowell is accused of “a diatribe laden with falsehoods that mimics the tone most often employed by scores of anti-immigrant nativists, Sowell relies on agitprop from that same lobby to broadcast a flawed economic argument against immigration.”
Media Matters posted a clip of commentator Star Parker with the headline “In Kitchen Sink Attack, Star Parker Blames ‘Minimum Wage,’ Obama’s Call For Taxes On Rich, ‘Liberals’ For Poverty.”
Media Matters calls out former GOP party chief Michael Steele. “If you were a reporter, and you were typing up RNC chairman Michael Steele’s call for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s resignation over a racially insensitive remark, would you maybe find room to mention that just a few days ago, Steele used the phrase ‘honest injun’”?
And, the website ran a clip of former presidential candidate Alan Keyes titled “Alan Keyes’ unhinged rant on Fox News: Obama ‘has made himself the focus of evil, the focus of child-killing policy.’”