Like many conservatives in America, I used to enjoy Armstrong Williams' talk show. But then, like most conservatives who used to feel that way, I learned that Armstrong Williams was taking literal propaganda money from the U.S. Government to promote No Child Left Behind, which was widely unpopular with conservatives. After that, it became a little difficult for any person of even modest discernment to take Williams' word at face value.
A person whose political views are for sale is not a person that anyone should be taking the lead from.
However, it seems increasingly clear that Ben Carson is doing exactly that. When three key members of Carson's campaign staff resigned in public protest last week, they made clear references to the outsized influence (from their perspective) that Williams was wielding in the campaign. Specifically, they claimed that Williams had been making command decisions that were the prerogative of other people within the campaign, while not even informing the campaign that he had made them:
What contributed to that mounting frustration?
The straw that broke the camel’s back, per se, was the interviews that he [Carson] did on December 23 that Armstrong arranged that we didn’t know about, where he said that every job was on the table… And I’m like, we have 150 staff people who all went home for Christmas thinking that their jobs were on the line. And that was stupid. First of all, that’s not a good press story… Two.. we ruined everybody’s holiday. So I spent the holiday talking to everybody trying to convince them that everything was fine, and I just got angrier and angrier about it. And I prayed about it, and the Serenity Prayer came to mind, you know, there’s some things you just can’t change.
So Armstrong arranged those interviews with Dr. Carson and you guys didn’t know that he was thinking about a shake up or that those interviews had been set up?
What else has Armstrong done that you’ve taken issue with?
The New York Times [story] about Dewy Clarridge. He insisted on a Sally Quinn interview with the Post that was extremely harmful and literally every appearance on New Day. He also leaked to the press that we were going to Jordan before we even took off, putting our lives at risk.
Armstrong doesn’t have an official position in the campaign, so why do you think he has such influence on Dr. Carson?
I don’t know. I think they need some psychologists to figure that out.
Did Doug’s decision to resign come from a similar thought process?
So how did Carson react to the mounting, publicly-embarrassing evidence that Armstrong Williams is calling all the shots in his campaign? Well, by sending Armstrong Williams out to explain to the media that everything is fine in the campaign, as you can see in this clip here.
I know that Ben Carson's donors are feeling better already.
I think it's completely fair game at this point for Ben Carson's donors to ask if they've been secretly funding an Armstrong Williams campaign-by-proxy rather than a Ben Carson campaign like they've always imagined. Even if that isn't actually happening, it's also by this point completely fair to ask why Carson is so completely beholden to one of the most openly coin-operated people in DC, and whether that has any impact on the Carson campaign's well-publicized catastrophic burn rate (a burn rate that has not even slowed Carson's free-fall in the polls).
What is sure, at this point, is that for some reason Carson still does not feel it necessary to educate himself on subjects in even a basic way before going on television to speak about them, which means that every free media opportunity now is turning into a liability rather than a benefit. And that's not how any campaign is going to turn itself around.