National Review’s Debunked ‘Bald-Faced Lies’ Charge Against Dr. Ben Carson Diminishes Venerable Publication’s 60th Anniversary

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a Distinguished Speakers Series event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At least one National Review columnist understands the value of nuance.

“I think it is going to prove an enormous non-issue, hinging as it does on what the word “relationship” means to voters. Four paid speeches and some unpaid nice interviews do not make Ben Carson responsible for Mannatech,” National Review columnist Maggie Gallagher writes, regarding Dr. Ben Carson and his dealings with Mannatech.

That’s quite a change from National Review’s Jim Geraghty, who claimed last Thursday that Carson’s statements about his relationship with the Texas based food supplement company Mannatech at CNBC’s debate last Wednesday were “bald-faced lies.”

Breitbart News has refuted Geraghty point-by-point, zeroing in on two inaccurate assertions of fact by Geraghty and one highly legalistic interpretation of two sentences uttered by Carson at last week’s CNBC debate. Geraghty has not responded to Breitbart’s evisceration of his inaccurate statement.

He has, however, denied claims by Dr. Ben Carson to Breitbart News Daily on Tuesday that Geraghty’s “bald-faced lies” smear was politically motivated or undertaken in alliance with a presidential opponent looking to take down Carson.

Gallagher is but one voice at National Review. The tone and editorial direction there come from Editor Rich Lowry, who has already come under fire for his blatant hostility to Donald Trump.

Former National Review writer Byron York details the publication’s fall from conservative beacon to political participant:

As the [February GOP Presidential] debate approaches, however, it’s likely that critics will raise questions about the participation of National Review, the venerable conservative publication, because of a number of comments made by its writers and editors about Donald Trump. (I should put in a disclaimer high in the story: I worked for National Review from 2001 to 2009 and know, like and respect many of the people involved in this matter.)

To put it mildly, a lot of NR writers don’t like Trump…

Finally, in perhaps the most notorious hostile analysis of the presidential race so far, National Review editor Rich Lowry said on Fox News in September that rival candidate Carly Fiorina “cut [Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon” in the second Republican debate. Later, Lowry got into a heated Twitter exchange with Trump, saying, “I thought the Carly cut your balls off line might bother you, but you know it’s true …” and “A deal for you, Donald: if you apologize to Carly for your boorish insult, I might stop noting how she cut your b**** off.”

Apparently, Dr. Ben Carson is now also on the list of outsider front-running GOP Presidential candidates “a lot of NR writers don’t like.”

The charges are having little impact on Carson’s campaign–indeed, he’s rising to the top of the polls. But they’re not helpful to National Review.

Conservatives have celebrated the venerable magazine’s 60th anniversary, and would like to see its legacy continue through the next 60 years as well.

But that sterling reputation has been built over the past six decades on a rigorous attention to factual accuracy and rock-ribbed conservative philosophy. Letting such a factually incorrect charge as Geraghty’s “bald-faced lies” claim stand flies in the face of that hard earned reputation. Indeed it calls in to question whether the former conservative media stalwart can enjoy its iconic status another 60 days, let alone 60 years.

Geraghty’s neatly parsed denial that “[n]o campaign contacted me” when it comes to his “investigation” into the  four paid speeches Carson delivered at Mannatech and the two unpaid taped interviews he gave to Mannatech executives in 2004 and 2013 cleverly sidesteps the more obvious explanation for the political hatchet job he and the National Review have been attempting to drop on Dr Carson. Of late,the formerly stalwart conservative publication is ideologically aligned with Inside-the Beltway establishment GOP presidential candidates who are desperately trying to derail the outsider freight trains of the Trump and Carson candidacies.

A formal contact between those campaigns and the National Review’s Geraghty is as unnecessary as a signed memorandum of understanding between Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC and the Jeb Bush campaign when it comes to shared objectives of two independent but politically on the same page organizations.

If National Review were truly not trying to take down Dr. Carson, the editors would clarify their subsequent story that far left outlets used to support their inaccurate claims that “a Carson staffer admitted he had a contractual relation with Mannatech.” The failure to correct that story, along with the failure to retract the “bald-faced lies” claim, puts National Review in league with the numerous far left media outlets – the Daily Beast, MSNBC, TPM, Business Insider – that have weaponized National Reivew’s recent articles as part of their own efforts to take down Dr. Carson.

Here’s how MSNBC rolled Geraghty’s narrative into its own far left smear of Dr. Carson:

For months, the pattern has been largely consistent. Ben Carson says something outlandish, offensive, or both, which sparks a media controversy. Carson sticks to his ridiculous position, his poll numbers will go up, and the political world moves on to his next outrageous comment. Rinse and repeat.
But this week offers something a little different: a Carson lie. . .
National Review, one of the most influential outlets in conservative media, described the Republican’s rhetoric as “bald-faced lies” – which is generally a phrase GOP candidates try to avoid in National Review.

Politico advanced this version of the smear, repeating an inaccuracy contained in Geraghty’s original story:

Geraghty called similar arguments from Carson and Williams “sophistry,” adding that “the Speaker’s Bureau just transfers the money from the group to the speaker; Carson spoke to the group four times and talked about the company’s ‘glyconutrient’ products in a PBS special as recently as last year.”

There are many words that can be used to describe a media outlet that refuses to retract a politically motivated allegation that has been thoroughly disproven, but “conservative icon” is not among those descriptors. Indeed, the term that publication used to describe the presidential candidate now in its targets seems more appropriate.
As we wrote at Breitbart News on Sunday:

The Merriam Webster Dictionary offers this definition of a “bald-faced lie”:

– easy to see and understand as being bad

– showing no guilt or shame : not hiding bad behavior

Based on the facts discovered by Breitbart News, it is clear that Carson’s statements at the debate regarding his relationship with Mannatech did not meet this standard. In the full context of his additional statements at the debate, and in light of the facts uncovered by Breitbart News, it is not “easy to see and understand” that Carson’s imprecise but honest failure to include the descriptive word “business” in two sentences is morally “bad.”

A statement cannot be a “bald-faced lie” if the person making it believes it to be true and has reason to believe it to be true, whether or not that reason may be persuasive to those hearing the statement.

Further, it is also clear that Carson does not consider delivering four paid speeches as “bad behavior,” nor is he hiding it. Nor is he denying that he was interviewed by Mannatech subsequent to at least two of those speeches.

National Review editor Lowry, who is also a columnist at Washington-establishment Politico, offered this defense for Geraghty on Tuesday.

I admire Ben Carson, but he’s completely wrong about this [the claim Geraghty’s attack was undertaken in cooperation in other campaigns]. Our writer, Jim Geraghty, heard about his connection to Mannatech independently late last year (when, by the way, other campaigns weren’t paying much attention to Carson, let alone dropping oppo on him).

Notably, Lowry avoided entirely the central false claim made by Geraghty that Dr. Carson’s statements constituted “bald-faced lies.”

Politics may indeed make strange bedfellows, but this alliance of convenience between National Review and the far left media outlets to disparage Dr. Carson is disturbing to even the most cynical Inside-the-Beltway political observers.

Breitbart News asked National Review Editor Lowry  if the publication planned to correct or retract Geraghty’s claim that Carson made “bald-faced lies” about Mannatech, but has not yet received a response.

The longer Jim Geraghty and the editors at National Review wait to retract the false claim that Dr. Carson’s statements constituted “bald-faced lies,” the further in jeopardy that publication’s iconic status becomes.


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