Now we are arguing whether the scholarship that West Point offers all its students is a scholarship. West Point calls it a scholarship: aside from a career in the army and the opportunity to serve as a leader, a full scholarship is its main selling point. The school encourages high school seniors to apply because they’ll receive a full scholarship. Now Politico says Ben Carson made it all up because it’s not a scholarship when every student receives it.
As Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief.” If West Point calls it a scholarship, it’s a scholarship. If Ben Carson tells how West Point encouraged him to apply when he was a senior ROTC cadet in high school, you’re going to say he ‘fabricated’ the story because you don’t think West Point should call it a scholarship? (Interestingly, Politico withdrew the word ‘fabricated’ in a revised edition of its story, but stood by the story itself.)
Don’t try to play gotcha with Ben Carson. The man is honest. He doesn’t make stuff up. For over a century we have talked about “the mystery of the pyramids,” yet now the question is apparently solved so we can attack Ben Carson. Every election we ask candidates to be forthright about their pasts, yet now we suggest Ben Carson deceives because journalists can’t find anyone to testify to his violent temper as a youth. Maybe journalists would like to publish an article to say we can’t find any evidence that Carson was actually a surgeon. After all, he could have arranged for his secret twin brother to enter the operating room.
Journalists seem to get lost when they can’t play their usual games. More precisely, they do play their usual games, then lose people’s trust even more than they already have. I can’t grasp why you would sacrifice your credibility to prove someone else is a liar. If you attribute dishonesty to an honest person, you really better know what you are doing. Then again, the excitement and buzz you create with a successful gotcha may be too tempting to forego.
Do you know why the shepherd boy cried “Wolf!” so often? He wanted to get attention, and stir things up. Does that remind you of so-called investigative journalism? The journalists who play gotcha are self-important busybodies who want to create a little commotion. People come running at the shepherd’s alerts because wolves actually threaten the flock. Like shepherds, journalists are supposed to protect citizens from dishonest politicians. When you call Ben Carson a liar, though, no one will believe you when a truly dishonest leader appears.