CNN Panel Decries 'Crazy' Ben Carson's 'Attack on Journalism'

CNN's Alisyn Camerota, along with guest Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast, targeted Dr. Ben Carson on Monday's New Day over his attacks on the media's coverage of his personal background. When Camerota wondered if Carson is indeed "being vetted more than other people," as he claims, Kucinich replied, "No. That's crazy. No, that is ludicrous....it's his autobiography....So why wouldn't the media...want to fact check that?...This is all fair game. This is part of the process. Welcome to the big leagues." [video below]

Camerota later blasted former neurosurgeon turned GOP presidential candidate: "Let's be honest....It's an attack on journalism. Let's just call it what it is. It's an attack on journalism. Journalists ask questions. That's the process. And if you don't like journalism, we should talk about that with presidential candidates."

Co-anchor Chris Cuomo turned to CNN political commentator Errol Louis, who appeared during the panel discussion segment with Kucinich, and asked, "Is it even a question as to whether or not when somebody's central narrative about how they became who they now are comes into question, that they have to answer those questions? Louis cited his supposed checking of then-Senator Barack Obama's background in 2008 as an example:

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, NY1: Well, one would hope so — in this case, Ben Carson...he doesn't want to ask (sic) any questions. He wants to turn and, sort of, attack the question and attack the questioner; and ask people, where were you in 2008?

You know, I started thinking back. I was part of the team that had to go out to Chicago and, sort of, look into President Obama's background — and went to his church and all this kind of stuff. But — all of that stuff is so irrelevant. I mean, just as you say, if your biography is all about what you did — and you're very detailed about it; and you say it again and again and again — it is the job of the press to, sort of, ask you some of the details. And the fact that nobody can corroborate several of the key stories is something he's going to have to answer. Now, he doesn't have to answer because we're asking. He has to answer because that narrative then starts to fall apart.

After playing a clip from Dr. Carson's interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, where the Republican accused the media of going beyond the usual vetting, Camerota asked Kucinich her "is he being vetted more than other people" question. The Daily Beast editor gave a blunt answer:

JACKIE KUCINICH, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, DAILY BEAST: No. That's crazy. (laughs) No, that is — that is ludicrous. I mean, but — he doesn't have a legislative record. He has this book that he has based his entire — I mean, it's his autobiography. It's how he tells his story. So why wouldn't the media — why wouldn't any of us want to fact check that? Because it is the central part of his candidacy — it's why people trust him. So that deserves to be looked into. And the idea that — you know, going back into someone's past is off limits — I mean, how many times have we gone into the Clintons' past; into — I mean, we were looking at — when Joe Biden was talking about running — into what he did with the crime bill. I mean, this is part of the process. George Bush's — I'm sorry, Jeb Bush's governorship — this is all fair game. This is part of the process. Welcome to the big leagues.

Cuomo replied to this by lamenting that supposedly, "The media has become made an opponent in a way that is going to damage our ability to cover this election going forward...I wasn't surprised that Alisyn took heat for the interview. That's the nature of the game. It was the fact that she was asking questions at all that she was getting attacked...It was, you shouldn't even be asking. And I think that has traction with that base right now."

Later in the segment, Kucinich repeated her assertion that the vetting of Dr. Carson was done to the same level with previous candidates, but gave a small acknowledgment that conservatives' criticism of the media's liberal bias had a basis in reality:

CUOMO: ...Jackie makes a very strong point. Carson is largely a creation of his own personal life — you know, his genius as a surgeon....his faith, the way he came after President Obama....I mean, that is what makes him so likable and desirable by people. That's the weird part about this for me. Of course, that's going to be what we come after, Jackie. I mean, when you have ever seen this not happen?

KUCINICH: Well, right — and I'm sure you'd have some on the right that say that — you know, maybe the media doesn't check the left the same way and — you know, maybe that's a fair criticism in some cases. But when it comes to the presidency, it really is a gauntlet, and in every — you know, we check every 'T' and every 'I.' That's just how — that is the process. That is what happens.

But, you know, this — this attack against the media is a time-honored tradition on both sides, and hey, Ben Carson raised a lot of money; and I'm sure, in the short term, this is going to help his campaign. Down the road, I would be surprised if you can attack the media all the time and all the way to the White House.

Camerota ended the segment with her "attack on journalism" claim.

It should be pointed out that the former Fox News journalist, during that November 6, 2015 interview on New Day of Dr. Carson, stated that her guest  "just challenged my industry and journalism as a whole....Fine. That's your prerogative." One might guess, given her reaction above, that she's no longer "fine" with the presidential candidate's push-back.

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Errol Louis/Jackie Kucinich segment from the November 9, 2015 edition of CNN's New Day:

CHRIS CUOMO:  So Ben Carson — Errol, let's put it this way: is it even a question as to whether or not when somebody's central narrative about how they became who they now are comes into question, that they have to answer those questions?

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, NY1: Well, one would — one would hope so — in this case, Ben Carson and, you know — great interview that you did with him — he doesn't want to ask (sic) any questions. He wants to turn and, sort of, attack the question and attack the questioner; and ask people, where were you in 2008?

You know, I started thinking back. I was part of the team that had to go out to Chicago and, sort of, look into President Obama's background — and went to his church and all this kind of stuff. But — all of that stuff is so irrelevant. I mean, just as you say, if your biography is all about what you did — and you're very detailed about it; and you say it again and again and again — it is the job of the press to, sort of, ask you some of the details. And the fact that nobody can corroborate several of the key stories is something he's going to have to answer. Now, he doesn't have to answer because we're asking. He has to answer because that narrative then starts to fall apart.

CAMEROTA: Jackie, you know, he has turned this around, and said that this is an illustration of how the media is going after him and what's wrong with the process. So let me play for you what he said yesterday in Puerto Rico to reporters about how sick this process is.

CHRIS JANSING (off-camera, from NBC's Meet The Press): Vetting is a normal part of the process. Did you not expect this?

BEN CARSON, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have always said that I — I expect to be vetted. But being vetted and what is going on with me — 'You said this 30 years ago. You said this 20 years ago. This didn't exist.' You know, I just — I have not seen that with anyone else.  

CAMEROTA: That was interesting. That wasn't the one that I was hoping for, where he talked about how the process was sick. Let me know if we have that—

CUOMO: Blame the media—

CAMEROTA: I blame the control room. Let me know if we have that. But — but what about that, Jackie? Is he being vetted more than other people?

JACKIE KUCINICH, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR, DAILY BEAST: No. That's crazy. (laughs) No, that is — that is ludicrous. I mean, but — he doesn't have a legislative record. He has this book that he has based his entire — I mean, it's his autobiography. It's how he tells his story. So why wouldn't the media — why wouldn't any of us want to fact check that? Because it is the central part of his candidacy — it's why people trust him. So that deserves to be looked into. And the idea that — you know, going back into someone's past is off limits — I mean, how many times have we gone into the Clintons' past; into — I mean, we were looking at — when Joe Biden was talking about running — into what he did with the crime bill. I mean, this is part of the process. George Bush's — I'm sorry, Jeb Bush's governorship — this is all fair game. This is part of the process. Welcome to the big leagues.

CUOMO: Well, the problem is, is that — we've said many times on this show; everybody's saying — well, this happens, especially with the GOP on the right side — they come after the media. They make the media an enemy. In truth, all politicians do it when they're under siege.

But I feel this is different, Errol. I think that the media has become made an opponent in a way that is going to damage our ability to cover this election going forward, because — I wasn't surprised that Alisyn took heat for the interview. That's — that's the nature of the game—

LOUIS: Right; sure—

CUOMO: It was the fact that she was asking questions at all that she was getting attacked — not, 'I didn't like your attitude; I didn't like how you did it; you wouldn't let him go; you were rude' — none of that. It was, you shouldn't even be asking. And I think that has traction with that base right now.

LOUIS: Well, it's entirely possible. I mean, I think Dr. Carson will probably find out that, even after he answers the questions, that it won't damage his standing — that, you know, answering the question—

CUOMO: May help it—

LOUIS: Yeah. I was a little wrong about this. Hey, it was 50 years ago — just tell us the truth, and everybody will move on—

CUOMO: He says he raised three-and-a-half million dollars because of the heat of all this.

LOUIS: I don't know. I don't doubt it. But I mean, I do think — you know, (unintelligible) probably should ask him the question, what exactly do you want people to do? Do you want people to just never check anything that you've said and just clap for you and let you, sort of, give a speech; and then, we'll just have an election? Is that what you think politics is? Because he's new to the game. Maybe, that's what he thinks it's supposed to be.

CUOMO: And also, Jackie makes a very strong point. Carson is largely a creation of his own personal life — you know, his genius as a surgeon—

CAMEROTA: Right!

CUOMO: His faith, the way he came after President Obama—

CAMEROTA: And the transformation that he talks about from angry boy—

CUOMO: That's right! I mean, that is what makes him so likable and desirable by people. That's the weird part about this for me. Of course, that's going to be what we come after, Jackie. I mean, when you have ever seen this not happen?

KUCINICH: Well, right — and I'm sure you'd have some on the right that say that — you know, maybe the media doesn't check the left the same way and — you know, maybe that's a fair criticism in some cases. But when it comes to the presidency, it really is a gauntlet, and in every — you know, we check every 'T' and every 'I.' That's just how — that is the process. That is what happens.

But, you know, this — this attack against the media is a time-honored tradition on both sides, and hey, Ben Carson raised a lot of money; and I'm sure, in the short term, this is going to help his campaign. Down the road, I would be surprised if you can attack the media all the time and all the way to the White House.

CAMEROTA: I mean—

CUOMO: Well, look, one of the differences — go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's be honest. It's — it makes it somehow easier to say that he attacks the media, and that the media is that. It's an attack on journalism. Let's just call it what it is. It's an attack on journalism. Journalists ask questions. That's the process. And if you don't like journalism, we should talk about that with presidential candidates.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Double Standards Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats The Daily Beast CNN New Day Video Jackie Kucinich Chris Cuomo Alisyn Camerota Ben Carson
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