FACT CHECK: Did Ben Carson Say, ‘Before Obama, People Barely Noticed Skin Color’?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Progressive commentator Alicé Anil and liberal Facebook pages recently shared a meme allegedly quoting Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as saying that people “barely noticed skin color” before former President Barack Obama.

“Before Obama, people barely noticed skin color; that goes back 150 years. Blacks were happy and grateful for what we were given,” the image says, citing an appearance by Carson on the conservative talk radio show “The Mark Levin Show.”

Anil posted the photo Nov. 30 and liberal Facebook pages American News X and Stop Telling Lies shared her post Dec. 3. Several other laypeople shared the meme on Twitter.

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that Carson made those remarks. Another meme with the quote credits a satirical Facebook page known for fake quotes.

Fact Check:

Carson, a former neurosurgeon, sought the 2016 Republican nomination for president before endorsing President Donald Trump. He gained notoriety for his political books and commentary in the years before announcing his candidacy.

Anil’s Facebook post cited a December 2014 Daily Kos community post that attributed the quote to an appearance by Carson on “The Mark Levin Show” in October 2014. Another meme with the quote cites a “Mark Levin Show” appearance on Oct. 22, 2014.

However, Carson was not a guest on the show on that date, according to an archived audio file. Richard Sementa, executive producer for the show, told TheDCNF that he believes Carson appeared once in 2013 and once in 2014.

In a May 2014 interview with Mark Levin, Carson promoted one of his books and discussed the political climate and the size of the federal government. Carson raised eyebrows, though, when he said that white liberals are racist in an April 2013 interview with Levin. “They’re the most racist people there are because, you know, they put you in a little category, a little box. ‘You have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?'” Carson said.

But Carson did not say that “people barely noticed skin color” before Obama in either Levin interview. No news outlets reported the quote.

Another meme with the same quote credits a Facebook page called “Stop the World, the Teabaggers Want Off,” a satirical page known for attributing fake quotes to political figures. “This page is for entertainment purposes. It is NOT meant to be taken seriously. It is primarily satire and parody with a mix of political memes and messages,” the page’s “About” section said.

The page is no longer on Facebook, but a similar page called “Stop the World, the Deplorables Want Off” appears to be run by the same person or people. “These people are so awful that you really can’t tell if they said it or not, because they have said things along those lines,” the page said in a comment. “We have been doing it for years, granted the old page was zucked.”

Carson has argued in the past that race relations deteriorated under Obama’s presidency.

A spokesperson for Daily Kos told TheDCNF that Bill Berkowitz, a writer who wrote the community post that Anil cited, “is not and has never been a representative or employee of Daily Kos.” The Daily Kos community section is open to the public and any member can publish a post.

Berkowitz doubted the accuracy of the Carson quote after TheDCNF reached out. “I think, after searching the Internet, that the quote you are asking about may not be accurate,” he told TheDCNF in an email. “I have not written about Dr. Carson in quite some time, so I haven’t updated that particular piece.”

Anil told TheDCNF in response to an inquiry that her page manager might not have realized the difference between a Daily Kos community post and a Daily Kos article. She removed the quote from her page and issued a retraction Wednesday.

“If you see it anywhere else please alert the page managers that it’s not reliable and should not be disseminated. Thank you all and my apologies for this!” Anil said in another post.

Berkowitz noted that other quotes from Carson in his piece, however, “are accurate reflections of Dr. Carson’s thinking.”

“Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson said at the Values Voter Summit in October 2013. “And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

Carson told attendees at an event in March 2014 that the U.S. government and institutions have become “very much like Nazi Germany,” Breitbart reported. “You had the government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

In a commencement speech at Andrews University in 1998, Carson said that he believes the Egyptian pyramids were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain.

Other fake quotes have been attributed to Carson. Snopes said that a meme quoting Carson as telling a hurricane victim that “homelessness is a gift from heaven” and another one saying that slavery was the “best thing that could have happened” to black people were false.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter