Dr. Ben Carson was on the defensive today after Politico reported that he had lied about getting a full scholarship to West Point, and that the school had no record of his application. Mr. Carson has used the West Point anecdote in three books: Gifted Hands, You Have a Brain and Take the Risk. He also repeated it during a Facebook chat in August.
The Carson campaign fought back, calling the Politico report “an outright lie.” Spokesman Doug Watts said that Mr. Carson considered an offer from the military academy based on his grades and ROTC performance, but in the end he did not apply to the school, instead attending Yale to study medicine.
Mr. Carson made a similar assertion in a statement to The New York Times.
“I don’t remember all the specific details,” Mr. Carson said. “Because I had done so extraordinarily 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.’” (West Point does not actually offer scholarships—it is free to attend).
Despite standing by the story, Politico removed the word “fabricating” from the story’s headline, changing it to “Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied.”
The Politico controversy has not improved Mr. Carson’s view of the media—in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network this afternoon, he said “They’ll ask my kindergarten teacher, ‘did I ever wet my pants.'”