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Politico Changes Headline of Controversial Ben Carson West Point Story

Politico altered the headline and beginning of its controversial story on Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson which claimed that Carson’s campaign admitted that the former pediatric neurosurgeon “fabricated” an anecdote regarding his interest in West Point as a young ROTC cadet.

The change was first noticed by Daily Caller reporter Alex Pappas. The original headline read: “Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship.” It now reads: “Exclusive: Carson claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied.”

original headlineScreen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.09.14 PM

There have been conflicting interpretations of the story, with some reporters noting that Carson never said he applied to the prestigious military academy, but instead claimed he received a scholarship, which he did not.

Additionally, the lede of the original story was changed.

Original:

“Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.”

New:

“Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday conceded that he never applied nor was granted admission to West Point and attempted to recast his previous claims of a full scholarship to the military academy — despite numerous public and written statements to the contrary over the last few decades.”

Carson’s campaign immediately slammed the original story, calling it an “outright lie,” and saying that the campaign never “admitted to anything.”

“Dr. Carson as the leading ROTC student in Detroit was told by his Commanders that he could get an Appointment to the Academy,” Carson spokesman Doug Watts told The Daily Caller. “He never said he was admitted or even applied.”

In a Friday afternoon column, Mediaite’s Alex Griswold went after Politico for its reporting, saying the publication should have distinguished between “admitting you got something wrong and admitting that you made something up entirely.”

“Carson will deservedly drop in the polls after this story,” Griswold wrote. “But what he doesn’t deserve is to have the media putting words in his mouth.”

UPDATE –– 7:15 pm EST: Politico has now added an editor’s note. Here it is in full:

Editor’s note: POLITICO stands by its reporting on this story, which has been updated to reflect Ben Carson’s on the record response. The original story and headline said that Carson’s campaign had admitted he “fabricated” a “full scholarship” from West Point, but now Carson denies that his campaign’s statement constituted such an admission, and the story and headline were changed to reflect that. POLITICO’s reporting established that Carson said he received a “full scholarship” from West Point, in writing and in public appearances over the years — but in fact he did not and there is actually no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the taxpayer-funded academy. And today in response to POLITICO he acknowledged for the first time that was not the case. Carson never explicitly wrote that he had applied for admission to West Point, although that was the clear implication of his claim to have received an offer of a “full scholarship,” a point that POLITICO’s initial report should have made clear.

[Images via screengrab / Politico]

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