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Sweet: Carson off base in media complaints; ‘buck up and deal with it’

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WASHINGTON – GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson is getting his props as a frontrunner: his past is being scrutinized and now his main rival, Donald Trump, is accusing him of being a pathological liar.

Welcome to the big time.

As a first-time candidate, Carson is being vetted. The retired neurosurgeon is complaining that President Barack Obama got a pass in his campaigns and he is being singled out for unfair treatment by liberal, secular media.

He’s wrong.

OPINION

Follow @LynnSweet

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While a lot of puff stories were written about then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., when he was running for president the first time, a plethora of investigative journalists were digging into him. Sun-Times reporters were all over Obama’s connections to the shady Tony Rezko, who is now finishing up his federal prison sentence in a halfway house.

Dealing with the probes and questions about Obama’s life consumed Ben LaBolt when he was an Obama ’08 campaign spokesman.

“I spent every waking moment on the campaign dealing these inquiries. It was my full-time job,” LaBolt told me when we talked last week.

“Any candidate emerging on the national stage should expect every detail of their life to be scrutinized,” LaBolt said. “And it’s an absolute myth and fabrication that Sen. Obama was not scrutinized. The campaign went through the crucible with investigative reporters every single waking hour.”

Look around, doc: Rival Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is taking incoming fire over the use of Republican Party of Florida credit cards, an issue that’s been dogging him for five years.

Everything old is new again once you start running for president.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, reviving a story she first told in the 1994 when she was first lady, said last week she tried to enlist in the Marines in 1975. The Washington Post Fact Checker said Clinton wasn’t aiming to ship out, concluding it was not the whole truth. “It makes more sense that she approached the Marines as part of a deliberate effort to test the boundaries available to women.”

Carson, running second to Trump in most polls, is the subject of routine coverage given to candidates who have emerged as major figures.

A few days ago, Trump, holding his own belt buckle at a rally mocked Carson for his claim that he stabbed a relative, only to have the knife hit the metal and break. “Now, if you’re pathological, there’s no cure for that,” Trump said.

Checking out stories in a candidate’s autobiography is routine. I revealed in an Aug. 8, 2004, column that people in Obama’s memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” were composite characters. As I wrote, “except for public figures and his family, it is impossible to know who is real and who is not.”

A week ago, on CBS’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked Carson about his media complaints, coming after questions were raised over Carson’s account, in his memoir, of a scholarship offer to West Point. Turned out that Carson never applied to the tuition-free military school, though some military brass at a banquet encouraged him to apply.

Said Carson, “There’s no question I’m getting special scrutiny …. And the whole point is to distract, distract the populace, distract me.”

Carson went further at a press conference earlier this month in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one Barack Obama when he was running. In fact, I remember just the opposite.”

Really? Remember these Obama stories, besides Rezko, about Bernardine Dohrn and her husband, Bill Ayers; the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; whether Obama attended a religious madrassa in Indonesia and was a crypto Muslim; his birth certificate; his drug use; and the real identities of the composite characters in his book.

Carson GOP primary rival New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in an interview telecast Sunday, told FOX News “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz that candidates complain about the media too much.

Advised Christie: “This is what it’s like to run for president of the United States, and it’s time to buck up and deal with it.”

Tweets by @lynnsweet

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