After Dr. Ben Carson’s campaign stonewalled CNN reporters trying to track down friends who Carson says he tried to attack as an “angry” youth, the retired neurosurgeon made clear that he wouldn’t aid the network’s investigation either.
CNN took a sweeping look at Carson’s formative years in an article published Thursday. Carson has repeatedly spoken about and written about violent outbursts, included an attempted stabbing, he had as a child before having a religious experience in the bathroom of his Detroit home that set him straight. CNN was unable to corroborate Carson’s recollections after speaking with nine people who either attended school with or grew up with the retired neurosurgeon.
During a Thursday afternoon book tour stop in Miami, a CNN reporter asked Carson to provide more information so that the news outlet could corroborate his recounting of those violent outbursts. His presidential campaign previously declined the news outlet’s repeated requests for additional detail.
“I don’t want to expose people without their knowledge,” Carson responded. “But remember, when I was 14, when the knifing incident occurred, that’s when I changed. That’s when most of those people they talked to began to know who I was. They didn’t know me before that.”
Carson was referring to the people CNN spoke with for its article. However, some of those people knew Carson beginning when he was in elementary school—well before he says he attempted to stab a friend in the ninth grade and subsequently had a religious experience.
The CNN reporter pressed Carson to divulge a little more information about the people he says he attacked when he was as young as “seven or eight” years old.
“Were they friends? Were they neighbors? How would you characterize—because our investigation could not find these people.”
“Well, why would you be able to find them?” Carson responded. “What makes you think you would be able to find them unless I tell you who they are? If they come forward on their own because of your story that’s fine. But I’m not going to expose them.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.