UPDATED: Nov. 9, 2015, 8:28 PM ET, to add statement from Politico.
Ben Carson’s campaign manager tried to pour more cold water on Politico Monday afternoon but ended up incorrectly accusing the news outlet of retracting its report on the Republican presidential frontrunner’s murky history with West Point.
In an interview with Fox host Neil Cavuto, campaign manager Barry Bennett accused Politico of having “fabricated” the story, which said Carson had falsely and repeatedly said he’d turned down a scholarship offer from the elite U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Politico noted Carson had never applied or been accepted at the academy, and that other details of his story were factually wrong.
After critics questioned certain aspects of the article on Friday, Politico ended up making changes to it and adding a lengthy editor’s note, detailing the edits.
Bennett seized on those changes.
“Scrutiny is fine, but you can’t fabricate things,” Bennett said. “All the documents were out there now, and it’s been retracted, but [Politico] can’t put the lie back in the bottle.”
Lauren Edmonds, a spokeswoman for Politico, told TPM on Monday the story was not retracted.
“That is not accurate. It was not a retraction. We updated the story – and clearly labeled that we did so – to reflect Carson’s on the record statement to the New York Times and other new details as they emerged through the day. That’s how we handle big news stories,” Edmonds said in an email to TPM.
Bennett also accused Politico reporter Kyle Cheney, who wrote the Carson story, of showing his own bias. He said Cheney had been “arrested for protesting Republicans” at the national convention more than a decade ago.
“We have a reporter that was arrested for protesting Republicans at the convention, nine years later writes a story and we’re supposed to say it’s just scrutiny? It’s an axe to grind. It’s ridiculous,” he told Cavuto.
The conservative media widely unearthed a 2004 student newspaper op-ed by Kyle Cheney, who was a communications student and editor with Boston University’s independent paper The Daily Free Press, about being detained for 25 hours during the Republican National Convention in New York City.
“The only thing dirtier than the Republican invective was the slick and grimy prison floor on which I was forced to sleep after being arrested near Ground Zero in New York City last Tuesday. And what happened to me could happen to anyone,” Cheney wrote in the column.
Cheney recounted following a march to Madison Square Garden, where an “amBush” of New York police officers waited to arrest peaceful demonstrators and haul them into an overcrowded temporary booking center.
“I was in Guantanamo for 12 hours,” he wrote.
In a statement to TPM, Edmonds disputed Bennett’s account of the incident:
This report is inaccurate. In 2004, as an 18-year-old college journalism student and student newspaper reporter observing the Republican National Convention in Manhattan, Kyle Cheney was wrongly swept up in a mass arrest along with many other bystanders and pedestrians near the site of a protest. He was a spectator, not a demonstrator. The city was later sued and settled a class action lawsuit for its indiscriminate arrests that day – including Kyle’s.
TPM reached out to Cheney for comment Friday, but did not receive a response.