Ben Carson

Ben Carson Admits His Story About Being Awarded a Scholarship to West Point Isn't True

The story makes a prominent mention in his bestselling memoir, Gifted Hands, but the military academy found no record of his application.



In his runaway bestselling 1992 book Gifted Hands, Ben Carson, the superstar nuerosurgeon who is now leading the GOP primary race in some polls, claimed to have been "offered a full scholarship" to the West Point military academy following a meeting with General William Westmoreland  in 1969 (Carson was a top ROTC student in high school).

The anecdote is a notable element in Carson's overall life story, which is built around his rise from poverty and hardship and his path to eventually becoming one of the most celebrated pediatric nuerosurgeons in the world.  

There's a big problem with the story, though. It isn't true. 

As Politico reports today, West Point verified that it had no record of Carson's application or acceptance, and Carson's campaign has admitted that the story is incorrect:

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.

"In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General," said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. "If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such," she said.

When presented with these facts, Carson's campaign conceded the story was false.

(Indeed, it's not exactly clear how Carson could have been awarded a "full scholarship" given that tuition at West Point costs nothing.)

This sort of thing would be damaging for any presidential candidate, but it's a particular problem for someone like Carson who is effectively running on his life story. 

When it turns out that a critical element of that story is false, it raises questions about the veracity and authenticity of other elements of the narrative. Indeed, reporters are already digging into other elements of Carson's story and finding potential weak spots. 

Carson, for example, often talks about his youthful struggles with an angry temper, including some surprisingly violent incidents. But earlier this week, two CNN reporters who spoke to a number of childhood friends and acquaintances found that none recalled Carson as having violent tendencies: 

"I was trying to kill somebody," Carson said, describing [one] incident—which he has said occurred at age 14 in ninth grade—during a September forum at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

But nine friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with Carson told CNN they have no memory of the anger or violence the candidate has described.

That person is unrecognizable to those whom CNN interviewed, who knew him during those formative years.

All of the people interviewed expressed surprise about the incidents Carson has described.

CNN's report doesn't go quite so far as to prove that Carson's stories about his temper are wrong, but it certainly raises questions about the accuracy of his claims, especially in combination with Carson's admission that his West Point story isn't true. 

That's a big problem for Carson, whose campaign is almost entirely built around his honest-and-decent manner and his compelling personal narrative, which he often recounts at length in his speeches.  

The debates have made it clear that he's just not well versed on national policy issues, and his awkward, more-than-a-little confused attempts to describe his policy ideas, especially when it comes to Medicare (which, given his background in medicine, you might expect to be an area of interest), mean that his life story has to effectively carry the campaign. When that story starts to break down, it means there's not an awful lot left to run on. 

Update: The Carson campaign has responded with a statement calling the Politico story "an outright Lie." You can read the full statement here, but basically it says that he never said he applied to West Point. The important bit: 

[Carson] was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors. They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.

It does appear to be the case that Carson never claimed to have applied to West Point. (He said he only applied to one school.) It's still at least a little odd to have claimed, as he did in Gifted Hands that he was "offered a full scholarship to West Point," which is different being being told, in what sounds like an informal conversation, that he could likely "get an appointment"—which requires going through the process of being nomina  with the understanding that once in, tuition is free.  

Update 2: In an interview with The New York Times today, Carson says that he was recalling an informal offer:

In an interview with The New York Times Friday, Mr. Carson said: "I don't remember all the specific details. Because I had done so extraordinariy well you know I was told that someone like me – they could get a scholarship to West Point. But I made it clear I was going to pursue a career in medicine."

"It was, you know, an informal 'with a record like yours we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point.'"

Mr. Carson has recounted the episode of being offered a scholarship at various points in telling his triumphant personal story. (Technically, West Point does not offer scholarships; it is free to attend.)

There's less here than the initial story suggested. But Carson's story that he was offered a West Point scholarship was exaggerated and poorly, misleadingly told. 

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  1. It’s good that CNN is uncovering this instead of a bunch of armchair journalists in their pajamas.

    1. True, CNN has a strict no-pajamas policy.

      1. Except Pajama Boy. He’s always welcome there.

    2. Ok liberals, say something about how this disqualifies him but it is ok for Clinton to continue to lie and be the perfect person for president.

      Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King are black. Brian Williams was RPG’d, Hillary ducked sniper fire, Obama’s “like your doctor, like your policy keep them”. Well, guess what Obama? My health plan isn’t the one I used to pay $225/month for. I’m paying $500 for second rate coverage. My car insurance is still $25/month (from Insurance Panda) and my renters insurance is still $10/month, thank god. So don’t you dare be messing those up too, Obama!

      It’s in the Liberal DNA, they are born pathological liars. It’s all they have going for them and the mind boggling number of Americans that keep swallowing their lies is just that mind boggling.

      And now they are crying about Carson. Hypocrites.

      By the way – A close reading would inform anyone that they didn’t admit anything of the kind. They clarified what he said- he met the general and was offered an opportunity that he understood to be a scholarship- paid for schooling based on his academic performance. Technically, that isn’t what it was, but based on his subsequent achievements, it’s understandable that the Army would want him- and certainly would have taken him if he had applied- unlike Barry who got into Columbia and Harvard on set- asides not merit.

  2. Has anyone confirmed that Carson is actually black?

    Maybe he is some white guy in blackface just so he could get in med school on affirmative action?

    1. #BenDolezal

  3. How has he wife, Morgan Fairchild, reacted to the revelation?

  4. How long before Carson goes to the standard black presidential candidate excuse of “it was a composite character”?

    It will be interesting to see if the progs go after Carson for embellishing shit in his memoirs when Obama had some too.

    1. Especially Hillary supporters. “I can’t support him, because he’s a liar!!!”

  5. But, according to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson.

    There are, however, several reports of an event in February of that year, similar to the one Carson described.

    Dude totally got the date wrong, sick burn.

    1. Book written in 1992 with a story about something that happened in 1969.
      For not having a perfect memory of a 23 year old event, this man should be hauled out and shot.
      This man could be capable of creating a story about a video causing an attack on a diplomatic mission, that he knew was a planned operation.
      We certainly can’t have someone like that at our highest levels of government.
      /sarc off

  6. Wait, so he never actually stabbed a dude? He’s lost my vote.

    1. Why make up a story about having such poor impulse control?

      1. In certain forms of Christianity, an expected part of your testimony is what a horrible person you were before.

        1. Which, to me, is bizarre: you’re telling the world your horribleness is now in check because you claim to studiously follow the rules written in a book?

          1. Yes, and it works on a lot of people.

          2. No, it’s because you were washed in the blood of the Lamb.

            1. So what do you wash the blood off with? Because gross.

              1. The blood is the soap, Hugh. What are you, an atheist?

                1. It turns into wine, which is alcoholic, and thus sterilizing.

                2. Uh, no…of course I’m not. ::looks around nervously:: I, uh, love bathing in blood like any good Christian. Why just this Tuesday I wrung a gopher out on my face while I was on my way to that building with the t on it.

          3. No, it’s because you put your faith in Jesus and are no longer focused on the petty bullshit that leads people into drugs and knife fights. The testimonies are along the lines of, “If a fuck up like me can get his shit together by focusing on the important stuff, so can you.” It’s also about the recognition that everyone has temptation. And everyone fails. The key is not to let that be an excuse to keep failing.

            It’s not about the ritual. It’s about the change in perspective.

            Well, unless you’re Catholic, and then it’s about being too busy worshiping idols and praying to ancestors.

        2. So lying about being a horrible person makes you a good person? Interesting.

          1. It’s all about the saving. If you think you don’t need saving, that poses problems in the evangelization effort.

    2. Isn’t it time for a Stabby President?!

      1. I think it would help when he is negotiating in the mid east.

      2. I picked up a doctor, he’s good with a knife
        Says anesthetic’s a waste of his time
        Works in a hurry but always worthwhile
        Knows they won’t be back for a long long time

      3. Is he Puerto Rican?

    3. Hey, he claims he did once tell an armed robber to go after the store clerk instead of him when he was shopping at the store. (Brave man indeed.)

      Of course, there’s also no documentation this altercation ever occurred either. I don’t know, if you just directed an armed person to rob another, wouldn’t you at least call a tip to the police?

      1. Weird story to tell everyone, but considering the job he is going for, directing an armed thug to rob someone else would fall under the “Pro” side of his qualifications.

        1. Touche.

          But presidential candidates rarely weave such activities into their life story. Of course, nobody will ever be allowed to ask about this story again because it’s “irrelevant”, a “distraction” and “has nothing to do with his qualifications as president”.

          It is maddening with him. He’s running on his life story (and currently leading in the polls based on that story… and apparently his belief that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain) but we’re not allowed to question it because it’s not relevant to the presidency?

          1. The Republican electorate, just as swayed by the mandates of emotion as the Dems, want someone to say mean things to people they don’t like, hence Trump. Carson is a non-politician who said mean things to Obama once at a prayer breakfast. Eventually, the emotional rollercoaster will come to an end and those two will fade in the polls and the Repubs can get on with the important work of ignoring the principles of freedom and nominating the most moderate, “electable” candidate.

            1. Takes a gander at any Reason post about cops or campus feminists, looks back at this post, leans back head and let’s out a giant laugh at libertarian self-delusion.

              The fact that libertarians aren’t numerous enough to fill out a team doesn’t make you non-tribal. It makes you spergy nerds with trouble forming groups.

      2. Not if you’re black

    4. Hasn’t he stabbed dozens of children in the brain? People used to pay him to do that, from what I understand.

  7. I wonder if there’s a connection between making up lies that are easily disproven and thinking you’re qualified to tell an entire country what to do.

    1. Yes. Both are symptoms of aggressive narcissism.

  8. Surely he can identify as West Point applicant. That’s all what matters.

    1. According to West Point’s records, he didn’t evan apply…

        1. Yeah, I realized that after I posted. Carson pisses me off and humor is hard for me to comprehend through anger sometimes.

  9. Who cares if Ben Carson lied about being in West Point? Are his lies any worse that Hillary’s lies? Bwak! Tu quoque! Tu quoque! Bawk!

    When is Reason finally going to publish an article critical of Hillary?!? They love Saunders! Rubble-rubble-rubble! The Jacket! Cosmos! Bawk!

    1. “They love Saunders!”

      I…I…don’t know how to tell you this….Flip Saunders is dead.


        1. I think his years with the Pistons did him in. So we in the Detroit area are feeling kind of collectively guilty about this.

          Plus – Detroit in general.

    2. Any guesses on who the butthurt person behind the fake Nick Gillespie handle is? My guess is either Winston or SIV.

      1. Are they even different people?

        1. By the way, in the before times, impersonating an editor or contributor was one of the very few things that would get you permabanned.

          Let’s see which one doesn’t pop up in the next few weeks.

          1. Wow. Thanks for reminding us.


            Matt Welch

      2. It’s exactly the kind of wit I’d expect from Mike M. While Winston has a hard-on for Nick, I think he’s proud enough in his blubbery ignorance to not bother with another handle.

    3. You not voting is a vote for someone else!

    4. One can believe Carson is unfit to be president and also believe that the media unfairly protects Democratic candidates and goes overboard to destroy Republican candidates.

      1. nuh uh!

    5. I don’t think you need to hold your breath on an article critical of Hillary as approximately 0 readers of Reason would EVER be caught dead voting for her

      1. Shriek, tony, amsoc…Joe in Lowell (whatever new name he is using)….

  10. Lying about a scholarship award from a premier educational institution (well, from anywhere really, including your local community college) should be an immediate disqualification to any sane voter. I mean, he didn’t even apply to West Point…

    But his supporters aren’t sane. Odds are, his supporters will just claim it’s an irrelevant distraction manufactured by the media

    1. He’s got the Holy Spirit in ’em. It doesn’t matter.

      1. That Holy Spirit is a known fabulist.

    2. What difference, at this point, etc., etc.

    3. West Point was actually built by Joseph for grain storage.

      1. I find your ideas intriguing and would be interested in subscribing to your papyrus publications. – B. Carson

    4. I never applied to Columbia but after they saw my SAT they asked me to attend their University. I rejected it since I had other plan, Apparently in those days SAT’s were shown to all universities. So the point is you don’t always have to apply to get an offer. This of course does not prove/disprove anything Carson has said just that you don’t have to apply. Since I did not accept Columbia probably never kept any documents showing that offer either. If I had accepted they probably would.

      1. It’s easy to imagine that Westmoreland said, “If you apply, you’ll get in.” I don’t know enough about 1967 to know if the USMA was desperate for highly qualified black applicants.

        And I can vouch for my own high school counting up Military Academies when they bragged about how much scholarship money the students had earned. They counted West Point as if it were a full ride at Harvard.

        So, I would predict that Carson’s story is “truthy.”

        1. Considering Carson already admitted it wasn’t true…going to go ahead and disagree with you here.

      2. Be honest, this was just a way to work in your story about being recruited by Columbia, the Ben Carson angle was just gravy.

        1. jealousy is so ugly. My point was if it can happen to me it can happen to others like Carson

  11. The fact that he is admitting a lie vs doing a Hillary is certainly a point in his favour

    I accept that no matter how honest, everybody lies on occasion

    Owning up to it gets points with me

    Admittedly I already liked the guy

    1. lol

    2. True dat.

    3. You can’t spell “The artist known Dunphy” without “we shit on truth”.

    4. That… actually is a good point. Pretty much every autobiography/memoir has lies and truth stretching. They do it because most people live boring, uninteresting lives. But copping to the lie is a step better than what most politicians would do, which is to double-down on the lie by saying they “misremembered”.

      But so what? Being a step better than the average politician means you’re still awful.

      1. “And Elaine, when you get to the part about my romantic adventures, feel free to toss yourself into the mix.”

        1. “The very pants I was returning!”

  12. Hahahahaha, amazing. I love when falsifiable lies are uncovered. It’s even better when the liar is a religious zealot.

    1. Aww, what a sad life.

  13. Why do I think of the Piranha brothers when I read about his old childhood friends denying he was violent?

    Presenter: Another man who had his head nailed to the floor was Stig O’ Tracy.

    Interviewer: I’ve been told Ben Carson nailed your head to the floor.

    Stig: No. Never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.

    Interviewer: But the police have film of Carson actually nailing your head to the floor.

    Stig: (pause) Oh yeah, he did that.

    Interviewer: Why?

    Stig: Well he had to, didn’t he? I mean there was nothing else he could do, be fair. I had transgressed the unwritten law.

    Interviewer: What had you done?

    Stig: Er… well he didn’t tell me that, but he gave me his word that it was the case, and that’s good enough for me with old Dinsy. I mean, he didn’t *want* to nail my head to the floor. I had to insist. He wanted to let me off. He’d do anything for you, Carson would.

    Interviewer: And you don’t bear him a grudge?

    Stig: A grudge! Old Ben. He was a real darling.

    1. An underappreciated bit. That and DP Gumby….




  14. Someone should ask him about Egbert Ludovicus Viele’s mausoleum.

    1. Surely you mean his grain silo?

      1. Built by bat-winged Black Egyptians.

  15. It sounds like he claimed Westmoreland offered him a scholarship at a dinner and he said he didn’t want to do go. I would not not think that would show up as an application to West Point, especially since he doesn’t claim he applied to West Point.

    It’s possible he made that up but nothing about it seems far fetched, and nothing in this story proves it.

    I know a guy who was just offered a chance to go to Ranger school after meeting a general. I’m sure the records show he didn’t request Ranger School.

    1. Why would Westmoreland be offering him a scholarship to a school with no tuition?

      1. So he can attend.

        1. Why would Westmoreland be offering him a scholarship to a school with no tuition?

          1. You’re being pedantic, the school isn’t open to everyone for the price of $0. You have to get offered the school, calling an offer to attend that school a scholarship is hardly a stretch. It would probably be better described that every person who goes to West Point is on a scholarship then that nobody is.

            1. Like I said be below, it’s only a bit of a stretch for a highschool student to not understand the difference. It is a big stretch when a neurosurgeon is writing a book decades later.

              1. The only stretch is that you’ve determined the word cannot be used outside of your own narrow definition. There’s nothing wrong with someone calling an invite to West Point a scholarship then or now.

                It’s an offer, that not many get, to attend a school for free. That’s a scholarship, or so damn close its not worth parsing.

          2. “Why would Westmoreland be offering him a scholarship to a school with no tuition?”

            West Point may bill you for the costs if you drop out.

            “An Army cadet who left West Point just months shy of his graduation to make a high-profile protest of religious proselytizing at the school now faces Pentagon demands that he repay the cost of his education ? either through active-duty service or by paying as much as $250,000.”


          3. A “scholarship” is the term we all would use because that’s the word most people use for going to a university for free, which is exactly why West Point itself uses that exact term for it in their own literature.

      2. Your handle is what really makes the comment.

      3. Because Carson mischaracterized it as a scholarship, or misunderstood some mention of ‘tuition-free’ as an offer of a scholarship.

      4. Because, for a poor kid from Detroit, the issue of funding would come up. Since all students at West Point are there on scholarship, Carson probably didn’t think he was speaking out of turn.

        What? Yes, ALL students are on scholarship. It’s NOT free. WE’RE paying for it.

        It’s pretty clear that he was, at the dinner in February, offered the kind of door opening that is needed to get into West Point–a situation that looks, from the outside, astonishingly like a ‘full scholarship’, and that he described it thus 12 years after the fact.

        He did not accept so all the looking for admissions info was inane–it states very clearly that he did not accept so looking for some kind of paper trail is just stupid.

        But the story needed stretching–‘Carson misremembers details about declined Westmoreland offer of entry to West Point’ doesn’t have the same impetus as ‘Carson LIES!!!!11!!!111!!!‘.

        It’s the same as CNN’s ‘9 people from Detroit don’t think Carson’s telling the truth about his intenal feelings’ story.

        Isn’t CNN a big donor to the Clinton Foundation?

      5. I applied to the Naval Academy in 1983. The application packet specifically mentioned that an appointment automatically carried a full scholarship. They also mentioned room & board, uniform allowance, and a monthly stipend. They never said the place was tuition free.

  16. Weigel posts the actual section for us to read. You’re getting outclassed by Weigel, Sudesman!

    He didn’t say he was accepted, or awarded, or anything like that. It does paint the picture that West Point reached out to him, or that Westmoreland guaranteed he would get in. It sounds more like some gross flattery than a big lie. As the Politico report says, there is no “full scholarship” to West Point. Everyone gets the equivalent of a “full scholarship.”

    And the Carson campaign doesn’t “admit” anything, they just rephrase it in a way that is less flattering. From what I can tell, Politico just wrote around it to make it sound like they all admitted to a lie.

    “He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

    That does jive with his (sloppily written / intentionally misleading) anecdote in the book.

    1. I could understand a Highschooler not understanding the difference between being sponsored for admission to West Point and receiving a full scholarship (which everyone gets), but the book wasn’t written when he was still a highschooler.

      1. It was written decades later. I can understand him getting the wrong impression as a high schooler, and keeping that wrong impression alive as he repeats this awesome story of how a general totally offered him a free ride to West Point.

        Perhaps no one corrected him, or they did and he ignored the correction or intentionally went with the more flattering story for the book. Still, he did not claim to be accepted or even apply to West Point – which is what is supposedly debunked here. I’d rate this story as another embarrassing Pyramid-silo incident, not a “We were under sniper fire” lie.

        1. I agree that the scholarship thing is the only thing that’s really debunked. I lean more towards a minimum editors intentionally framing it that way.

          Also, I have to assume this was ghost written.

    2. Politico?

      Cast a Republican in the worst possible light?

      I am shocked – shocked – to find gambling in that establishment.

  17. I’ll go out on a limb and say the story about God giving him $10 for bus fare wasn’t true either.

    I feel I do a good job wrapping my head around why candidates appeal to different people, but this guy is obviously not all there. Like actually mentally ill. I don’t get it at all.

    1. I think he appeals to people who want to would vote for Santorum or Huckaboo, but a black version is even better. There’s also probably a growing ‘literally anybody but Trump’ contingent.

  18. So it’s not a fact that he was going to start referring to himself as Ben “The Truth” Carson?

    I haz a sad….


  19. I doubt there is anybody here who hasn’t lied before and memoirs/autobiographies, like resumes are cynically referred to as a refined form of lying

    I didn’t trails reasonoids were so holy and awesome that they never have lied before and thru expect it in a candidate

    What adult in this country hasn’t lied and under scrutiny of running for office there won’t be lies exposed in their past?

    Answer: zero

    I’ve seen a lot of best is the enemy of the good objections to legislation and candidates and it’s absurd

    Join the real world – people are imperfect and you will NEVER find a candidate who has been 100% honest 100% of the time

    Politicians are human beings

    Carson has faults but the fact he is owning up to this lie is admirable imo

    I’d love to know what candidate has never lied

    Where is this unicorn?

    1. You can’t spell “The artist known Dunphy” without “we shit on truth”.

    2. You’re right. They’re all terrible.

      Vote some guy 2016
      You won’t even know I’m there

  20. Everyone lies. Therefore, it’s totes cool that Carson also lies.




    1. It’s nice to know I can always be assured whatever I post – some moron will misrepresent it

      Long before this awful scandal I believed with 100% certainty that Carson, like any political candidate has lied before

      So yes – I accept this as a universal truth

      Everybody has lied

      It doesn’t make lying a moral good

      It’s still WRONG

      it’s a wrong that those of us who live in the reality based community (a pimpled treasonous posting from his mamas basemen can afford to not understand people and reality) understand

      Omg! Carson is flawed! Just like every candidate ever

      So awesome to be among these moral elite!

      1. You can’t spell “The artist known Dunphy” without “we shit on truth”.

    2. I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that a lying cop would defend a known liar.

  21. I doubt I’ve ever interviewed – in any depth – any crime victim who hasn’t lied about something

    Some reason pub must occupy a really awesome plane of existence if they never lie and have friends with similar lofty perfection

    Wow. So kewl to be among such moral elite!!!

    1. You can’t spell “The artist known Dunphy” without “we shit on truth”.

      1. So what’s the deal there, is there an extra space in this handle or something?

        1. I think it’s a false flag attack. What better way to completely discredit Carson than to tell us that dunphy is on his side?

    2. You keep repeating yourself. Are you okay? Do you need help?

  22. We should all forget about this isolated incident. I mean, nothing else Carson has said has even been weird/wrong/fucked up or a lie, right?

    1. It’s irrelevant, ok?

  23. You know, his idiocy regarding the pyramids and other religious stuff he takes literally bothers me more than a lie like the West POint one.

  24. Lies matter. Lol

  25. What’s funny is that the fact that West Point has no record of his application, etc., in no way refutes the story that he was offered a full scholarship by Westmoreland. Westmoreland could perfectly well have done that, but Carson never applied.

    Sure, sure, its a fable, but the “investigative journalism” here is on par with saying that Donald Trump never offered me a job when I met him at the airport, because Trump Inc has no record of my application for a job.

    1. It shows a complete disconnect from the real world. Go figure.

      On par with being surprised that a job is posted AFTER they have selected a candidate.

      Maybe it was a legitimate offer to pull strings. Maybe Carson over-interpreted Westmoreland’s offer of help. Maybe Westmoreland was talking to someone behind Carson. Whatever.

      Obviously we need to scour Westmoreland’s personal notes for some reference to an offer he made to some random kid from Detroit.

  26. A little autobiography embellishment about the difference between a scholarship and free tuition is much less harmful than his recent stands for the drug war and conservative thought policing. My opinion of him as better than Trump or Clinton (but still kind of Santorum-y) is unchanged.

    1. His drug war nonsense gives me a sad.

      Maybe we could store medical marijuana in pyramids.

  27. What difference, at this point, does it make?

    So what if his admission to West Point was unofficial.

    This is just a distraction.

    Fake scandal.


  28. Having done 4 years in Navy JROTC in high school, and a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy (one of the 5 US Service Academies), and actually reading the passages in question, I can say truly, and without equivocation:
    Um I honestly dont know about this either way.
    I am not a particular fan of his as candidate for POTUS, but the overall gist that he met Westmoreland, that he could have received a nomination from his ROTC instructor all add up. But still not seeming to understand the difference between being told that he should apply, his instructor could give him a nomination and that he would have a good chance of being accepted; and simply stating “offered a full scholarship” is kind of an issue. But then, many people reading the book font understand the process do he may have been simplifying.
    I dont think this is as bad as Politico would want. But some of it does sound a little weird.

    1. I think I would go out on a limb and suggest that most of the applicants with a personal note of support from Westmoreland were accepted.

      Just a guess.

      1. Yes. Westmorand was a former comendant. And all it takes to get in is the recommendation of a memeber of Congress.

  29. I guess the media has learned it’s lesson and has started vetting black candidates for president.

    I mean really, after that last one……


    This seems to be nothing but a bit job by Politico. Let me get my surprised face that Suderman bought it. Westmorland is dead. I don’t see how we can ever k ow if he offered Carson admission to West Point. It is not unreasonable to think he did or that he said something that Carson took to mean that.

    This is a big nothing.

    1. I will say this.

      If Wes Moreland offered Carson a recommendation to West Point, he probably would have gotten in, and it would have been free.

      The other thing to remember about this? Hasn’t Carson been an SDA all his life?

      When committed Adventists are drafted into the military, especially during Vietnam, they usually go in as conscientious objectors.

      For example, see Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor for his service during World War II:

      See Operation White Coat from the same era for another example of Adventists going in as conscientious objectors:

      In other words, it rings true that Carson would turn down a recommendation to West Point–because he was an Adventist. I don’t know that he could go to West Point, sign on, come out as a Second Lieutenant, and insist on being a conscientious objector. A poor, committed Adventist would often turn that opportunity down.

  31. “When it turns out that a critical element of that story is false, it raises questions about the veracity and authenticity of other elements of the narrative.”

    If he’d blamed it all on an anti-Muslim YouTube video, I guess we’d all be saying, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    Did he accept donations from foreign governments to the Carson Foundation while he was the Secretary of State?

    To what extent have Trump’s mob ties to the construction industry in New York City and the Mob in Atlantic City been vetted?

    I prefer Carly to Carson, but I fear the most likely Republican candidates if Carson loses will be much, much worse than Carson. Trump can’t beat Hillary and neither can Jeb Bush. Can’t we say this is racist or something? Black people don’t expect to get a real chance because America is so racist or something?

    Obama would know what to say.

    Hillary Clinton will tear this country apart. She will walk into the White House the most hated President in a long, long time–and from there, it’s gonna get worse. OH GOD, it’s gonna get worse!

    1. It’s not like Carson used FBI files to investigate his political enemies, set up a commercial real estate deal to funnel taxpayer money intended for the widows and orphans who lost their savings in an S&L into his spouse’s reelection campaign, or accepted “donations” from some of the world’s worst governments when he was the Secretary of State.

      If Hillary is elected, abandon all hope. The only good thing about it is that she’ll likely be impeached before the midterms, she’s such a fucking crook.

      1. But Ken he is part of the social other in Suderman’s world. Suderman’s entire career and social life depends on his social signaling that he is not one of those people like Carson.

        1. Suderman went all in on a very poorly sourced and picayune hit job on the remote past of a Republican front runner.

          Carson never admitted to anything that Politico alleges he admitted to, and has held fast to his version of events – Politico’s wildly misleading headline to the contrary. Politico has already walked back it’s headline, yet Reason has not.

          Amazing how many people in the comment section are likewise prone to jump on board as well.

  32. no matter what I post, some asshole will misunderrepresent it.

    every perp lies, and Carson’s black, so he’s a perp, therefore he lies. BOOYAH! Science!




  33. From what Im hearing Politico are the liers, not Carson. Shocking.

    1. He originally said that never applied and has never said that he had applied according to his campaign. As a leader in ROTC it would be hard to believe he wasn’t recruited. So, non-story.

      1. If so, this kind of thing will launch him into the stratosphere.

        One of the things that made Trump so popular was the perception that he was being mistreated by the MSM.

        If this is all bogus, then maybe Carson will get some of that wholesome goodness.

      2. They are really going after Carson, though, aren’t they.

        The left must be really scared of Carson.

        I supposed they should be. If the Republicans nominate Carson, it’ll ruin a number of their favorite narratives.

  34. “There’s less here than the initial story suggested. But Carson’s story that he was offered a West Point scholarship was exaggerated and poorly told.”

    I think you’re making some assumptions about what it means to be offered a scholarship to average people.

    If you got in because of your grades and don’t have to pay–a lot of people are going to say you got a “scholarship”.

    It certainly isn’t fair to assume the most technically incorrect use of his language and then call him a liar, but I’m not sure it’s fair to assume the most technically incorrect use of his language at all.

    Somebody send Politico a spatula so they can scrape all the egg off their faces.

  35. Maybe Superman could update the headline to read “Politico Hasn’t Yet Admitted That its Story about Ben Carson Isn’t True”

  36. There’s less here than the initial story suggested.

    Aren’t you getting paid for this?

  37. So, they gonna admit they fell for a Politico hit piece.

    1. Suderman fell for it the same way Clinton fell for Monica’s super seduction skillz.

  38. Never believe autobiographies. In fact you’d do well to disbelieve all biographies.

  39. Suderman,
    Get your facts straight or at least check up on updates you douche.

  40. Other follow ups on the Politico story indicate that Westwhoreland was nowhere near Detroit around the time Carson claims to have met him. So basically the entire thing is a crock of BS. I’ve never understood why famous people feel the need to embelish their lives.

    1. Westmoreland is dead, and you know this how?

      Was this ‘follow-up’ done by the same people who wrote the initial Politico headline?

  41. If Mr Suderman were to check the AVAILABLE facts before running with a Politoco story he’d not have to offer a lame excuse that Carson told the story in a misleading manner. As far as I’ve seen so far, the only one misled was Mr. Suderman. (I doubt that the Politico author was misled; more likely he wrote a story he knew he was slanting mightily.)
    Blame others for your mistakes, Mr. Suderman! It helps establish credibility—not!

  42. Not a Carson supporter, but I expect better of Reason than regurgitation of essentially false hit pieces from Politico!

  43. OK since he did not claim to have applied. The fact that West Point does not have a record of his application proves nothing. Now if General Westmoreland refuted meeting Dr Carson, or his account then that would be a story.

  44. Unless you or your kids went through application process, you probably don’t know the nuances of it. Things might have been different back then, but for the past two to three decades you need: medical clearance from DODMERB, a nomination from sitting senator or congressman (unless a parent was killed in the line of duty [IIRC], or were currently enlisted with recommendation from chain of command), and a letter of acceptance from the academy itself, after obtaining the first two. It’s possible that a flag officer could offer a nomination, but I’m sure he was just trying to recruit a high school kid, one who remembers the conversation as an offer of a scholarship. I’d be willing to be generous to the man (since he wrote the book as an inspirational story in 1992, not as campaign fodder this year) and accept that he never knew, since most people don’t, that you can’t get a scholarship to West Point.

    No one seems to notice that you can’t be in ROTC in high school. There is such a thing as JROTC, which is loosely affiliated with the military, in high schools, but ROTC is a DOD program at colleges and universities that is a direct pipeline into the military and is the primary source of military commissions. They are not the same thing. Not even close.

    Journalize better, please.

    1. “… and a letter of acceptance from the academy itself…”

      Yep, speaking from experience an appointment is just part of the process. Many Congresscritters give “competitive appointments” – to multiple applicants in any given year, then they let the Academy choose the one they want.

  45. So, he got the terminology wrong, since the Military Academies don’t offer “scholarships”.
    However, if a 4-star tells you that he thinks he can get you an appointment, it’s a pretty safe bet that he can.
    Not only is an appointment a “full ride” scholarship, they even pay you to attend.
    It might be of interest to note here that upon graduation, and commissioning as an O-1 (2nd LT/Ensign), you have 4 years of “commissioned service” noted in your “jacket”, as your time as a Cadet/Midshipman counts as commissioned time.
    Those who have read Dr. Carson’s book have yet to find any entry where he claimed to either have attended, or applied to attend, West Point. Therefore, what’s the question?

    1. Except he got the terminology right.

      Academies do offer full scholarships to every attendee. Simple journalistic (as opposed to journolistic) effort would have noted that. But Suderman is the latter, not the former.

      There are a lot of people who need to wake up and stop believing the people they have been conditioned to believe.

      1. I mean really, this is just sad. How intellectually lazy do you have to be to write for Reason.

        ” This means ALL students who attend the Naval Academy do so on a full scholarship in return for 5 years of active duty service upon graduation.”

  46. This is just a really really stupid nitpick of a story. I’m not at all a fan of Ben Carson, but I’m rolling my eyes so hard it hurts. Seriously shitty journalism at Politico to try to make something of this crap.

  47. A verbal invitation or suggestion by Westmoreland that Carson attend West Point came because of his outstanding record in high school ROTC. Since Carson declined the invitation, there would be no record of a formal application.
    In any event, you do not apply directly to West Point; you make application through your congressman, the same way my uncle did.
    Before you leap on the MSM bandwagon, check your background facts.

    1. It’s just social signalling. They have to show their peers that their hearts are in the right place even if they are writing for a journal like Reason.

    2. “…, you do not apply directly to West Point; you make application through your congressman, the same way my uncle did…”

      Not sure how old your uncle is, but at least of when I applied the the USNA (1983) you applied to the Academy, and also sought an appointment from your Senator or Representative (each office having it’s own application process.)

  48. Just to start this out, I don’t support Ben Carson. I am a fan of Rand Paul. You have 2 updates to this story and yet didn’t feel the need to update the misleading title to the article. I always thought of Reason to be above these media games where you use sensationalized and misleading titles to push an agenda when a lot of people don’t read the article more less the updates hidden at the end. Politico has changed the title of their false article and admitted they flat out lied on a lot of what they reported.

    Furthermore, please post the advertising that Dr. Carson put up on his facebook page yesterday with U.S. Army advertising clearly pushing full scholarships for African Americans. This kind of political games by the media are the exact reason that the “outsiders” have risen to such high poll numbers.

  49. The West Point story, as reported by Politco, was utter nonsense.
    Carson (yes I have read his book, carefully), NEVER stated that he received a scholarship or applied, only that it was proposed to him which he was in ROTC and that he had turned it down given his goals to become a physician, not a military man. He has always stated that he only applied to one university: Yale.

    Regarding Medicare, it is and has always been an expensive mess, promoting lots expensive taxpayer paid for defensive medicine, poor care and poor outcomes because it insulates the public, physicians and hospitals from the many expensive poor quality choices they routinely make/promote.

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