Not too long ago we heard about the significant campaign staffing shake-up (which is a nicer way of describing a lot of people heading out the door) at Ben Carson HQ. That was during the same period when the retired neurosurgeon was beginning of his rather rapid slide from the top of the polls to the ranks of the second tier in or near single digits. I’m sure there were any number of factors involved in that transition, but one of them might have been spurred – at least in part – by an item which Time Magazine dug up this week. There was a radio advertisement for Carson which hit the airwaves in November built on top of some rap music which was, er… interesting to say the least. In case you missed it, here’s the musical delight in all its glory.
To say that it’s somewhat far afield from Carson’s normal style is putting it mildly, but we now find out that Carson claims he didn’t even approve it and was, in fact, horrified by the ad when he heard it. (Time)
Ben Carson blamed his staff for the notorious rap radio advertisement that was released last year, saying he was “horrified” by the ad and that his campaign is much better run since a staff shakeup around New Year’s.
“I did not approve that, and when it came out I said, why did you put that out? What are you thinking?” Carson told a crowd at Drake University, in Des Moines, Iowa, gathered for BET’s #AllVotesMatter Twitter Town Hall. “I was horrified.”
Carson told the crowd that the advertisement was released without his knowledge.
“It was done by people who have no concept of the black community and what they were doing,” Carson told the audience at Drake University. When asked why he didn’t stop the advertisement, Carson said, “I should have but they stuck it out without me knowing.”
Horrifying beat box mix tapes aside, Carson’s claims raise a couple of questions here. First, who was running things at his campaign back then? Trust me… I’ve worked some campaigns and I understand that the bigger they are, the more things have to be farmed out to staff and surrogates on a regular basis, but advertising efforts are traditionally reviewed and approved by the boss before they go out. He may not be in on selecting the ad agency or even batting around the general themes, but the finished product should get a thumbs up from the candidate himself before it hits the airwaves. If you’re shopping that responsibility out then you pretty much deserve what you get.
But even more to the point, each and every presidential campaign ad (along with almost all of them downstream) ends with a statement saying that the candidate approves the message. This one was no different and right at the end you hear his voice chiming in, “I’m Ben Carson and I approved this message.” Now, anybody working on the campaign trail knows that you cut those in advance and your media producer will tack it on at the end, but Carson is essentially admitting that his campaign put out fraudulent material here. He didn’t approve that advertisement at all, but the voters who heard it were told that he did. That’s a Bozo No-No.
It’s a horrible advertisement and I don’t blame Carson for recoiling a bit, but he unleashed this trap on himself. You can only farm out so much of your campaign responsibilities before it comes back to bite you in the end.