Five Serious Questions About Politico’s Hit On Ben Carson’s West Point Story

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Politico published a major hit on Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson Friday claiming his campaign “admits fabricating” part of Carson’s West Point story, but their story leaves some unanswered questions.

“Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” Kyle Cheney writes in the lede.

Here are five questions Cheney does not answer in the piece.

1. When, if ever, has Carson claimed he actually applied and was admitted to West Point?

The lede says Carson has claimed to have both applied and been admitted to West Point, and Cheney reports West Point has no record of him applying or being admitted. But quotes drawn from two of Carson’s books, as well as statements from his campaign, do not support Cheney’s claim. (RELATED: Team Carson: Politico Story An ‘Outright Lie’)

2. Did Cheney leave out something that the campaign told Politico?

The lede and headline claim the campaign “admits” a central point of his story was made up. But the statements from the campaign Cheney includes only concede Carson may have mixed up the date on which he had the initial conversation with Gen. William Westmoreland. Is this admission left out of the story, or did the campaign not actually make this concession?

3. Does Politico dispute Carson’s account of a later conversation with Westmoreland in which the offer happened?

Cheney disputes the date of the event, but not the later conversation Carson says led to the offer of a full-ride to West Point. Did Cheney try to track down that conversation? The story doesn’t say.

4. Has Politico determined what Carson meant by “later?”

Carson is quoted in his book as saying he was introduced to Westmoreland, had dinner with him, and “Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.” Later could mean a lot of different things. Did Cheney verify whether later meant that day, that week, that month or some other time?

5. Has Politico somehow verified what Westmoreland promised Carson in that conversation?

Carson’s story, as quoted in Cheney’s piece, is that Westmoreland “opened doors” and offered him a “full scholarship” to West Point, and that he considered the offer but ultimately “did not seek admission.” Has Politico somehow verified whether Westmoreland, who is now deceased, made the offer?

Carson spokesman Ben Watts attacked the story, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation, “The Politico story is an outright lie. Dr. Carson as the leading ROTC student in Detroit was told by his commanders that he could get an appointment to the academy. He never said he was admitted or even applied.”

Politico’s Cheney also did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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