When most of us heard Ben Carson claim recently that the media never gave Barack Obama the same level of scrutiny that he’s facing today, most of us fell to the ground, in tears, laughing maniacally, fighting to catch our breath for a solid forty minutes. It was the most ridiculous thing anyone has said during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle to date, and given how ridiculous this cycle has actually been, that’s saying something.
However, not everyone found Ben Carson’s absurd claim to be as comical as the rest of us did. This week, many conservatives on social media have picked up Carson’s laughably obtuse line and turned it into a right-wing talking point, a sort of universal tool to bash President Obama, criticize the media, and soften the blow of all of the revelations about Carson’s dishonesty that have been unraveling this month.
On November 6th, during a brief on-air meltdown, Carson argued that he was being treated unfairly by the media, while claiming that then-Senator Barack Obama never received the same amount of scrutiny as he’s getting now when Obama ran in 2008.
Of course, we all know how completely false that is. Obama had literally every minute facet of his life scrutinized, in ways no other candidate — including Ben Carson — has ever witnessed. Questions about his grades, Sarah Palin’s allegations that Obama “pals around with terrorists,” even Obama’s birth certificate and American citizenship were called into question, despite mountains upon mountains of evidence to the contrary. And that was just from the supposedly-liberal “mainstream media”; the GOP were going a lot further down the rabbit hole, going so far as to claim Obama was secretly Muslim and/ or secretly gay — as if either of those would make someone incapable of being president — and piling on far more insulting and childish labels than anyone in the progressive media would ever try.
But conservatives, with their nefarious long-term memory deficits, are now trying to revise history yet again, claiming that none of those questions were ever raised by the media. That it wasn’t the liberal Huffington Post who picked up the Bill Ayers story from the UK’s Daily Mail and brought it into the spotlight here, well before any conservative outlet had ever heard of him. That it wasn’t ABC, a mainstream media outlet, who broke the story about Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
Newsflash, conservatives: If any one of your presidential candidates faced even one-eighth the scrutiny Obama had to face, not just on the campaign trail but in all the years since he announced his candidacy, that candidate would drop out of the race and would never step in front of a news camera again. These people who believe CNBC’s questions were mean and unfair wouldn’t know how to handle something so sinister or vile as having your American citizenship questioned by a sizable swath of Americans.