To say the third GOP presidential debate hosted by CNBC was a train wreck would be an understatement. Several of the questions were really bad, the moderators often lost complete control of the process and, of course, Republicans were being Republicans. Even as someone who legitimately gets excited about any and all presidential debates, I found myself praying for this thing to end.
I’m not going to put all of the blame on CNBC – though they shoulder a lot of it. When the network agreed to Donald Trump and Ben Carson’s demands that the debate not last longer than two hours, otherwise they would boycott, this debate was doomed. With 10 candidates on stage it’s nearly impossible to have a coherent debate as it is, let alone trying to fit that sort of chaos into a small two-hour window.
As I’ve said before, until the main stage is down to at least 4 to 5 candidates, these debates are almost always going to be a circus.
And while there were several noteworthy moments, one such moment came when Ben Carson was asked about his involvement in a “nutritional supplement company” called Mannatech. In fact, it was possibly Carson’s most memorable moment of the evening as the crowd actually booed the moderators for pressing him on his denial that he’s had “no involvement” with the company.
“See? They know,” Carson quipped as the audience responded with loud applause.
There’s just one slight problem with Carson’s claim that he has “no involvement” with the company: He’s flat-out lying.
For those of you who might not know, Mannatech is a company that’s been sued several times (including by ultra-conservative Texas Governor Greg Abbott when he was attorney general of the state in 2007) for claiming that their products had helped cure autism, ALS, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, AIDS and Attention Deficit Disorder. At that time, Abbott said that Mannatech posed a great risk to Americans, insisting that their “deceptive practices pose a health risk to seriously ill consumers who may forgo traditional medical attention because of the company’s false claims.”
If the extremely “big business friendly” conservative Greg Abbott is suing a large company for unethical behavior, that says something.
So it goes without saying that, as a doctor, Ben Carson might not want to be connected publicly during a presidential debate to a company that was found to have fraudulently claimed its products cured or treated diseases – putting people’s lives at risk – just so they could sell often very expensive products.
But for Carson to defiantly claim that he had “no involvement” with the company is completely ridiculous.
He’s been paid to give multiple speeches to the company; has publicly made glowing remarks about their products (even admitting Wednesday to using them); has appeared on promotional videos for the company; and – as pointed out during the debate – his picture was used on Mannatech’s website (though he denies giving them permission to use it).
If you still don’t believe me, here’s what Carson said during a 2013 promotional spot:
The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, they gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food. Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to try to restore natural diet as a medicine, or as a mechanism for maintaining health.
But according to Ben Carson, it’s “propaganda” to suggest that he’s had involvement with the company – the company for which he did promotional videos, gave paid speeches for and admits to using their products.
And I think it’s important to point out that as a doctor, everything he says publicly about any sort of health supplements matters. It’s why Dr. Oz has come under so much scrutiny (and rightfully so) for often promoting ridiculous supplements on his show despite the fact that he knows, as a doctor, they’re scams.
We’re seeing more and more that this is Ben Carson’s reliable fallback. He says or does something, then when he’s called out on it, he denies it and attacks the people making the accusations. He did this multiple times Wednesday night. When his tax plan was called out by moderators (a 10 percent flat tax based on tithing) he denied that’s what he had said – even though during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace that’s exactly what he said.
It’s more typical rhetoric from Republicans. They say all sorts of nonsense, then attack the media or claim bias whenever their lies are called out. This plays right into the hands of the typical conservative voter who’s been indoctrinated to believe that any news source that’s not approved by the GOP is “part of the liberal media” that’s out to get Republicans. It’s a classic tactic used by conspiracy theorists.
But it is a true testament to Ben Carson’s character, or lack thereof, that quite possibly his biggest moment of the night came on a blatant lie he told with a straight face to an audience that was gullible enough to believe him.
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