By Victor Luckerson
November 6, 2015

Republican presidential frontrunner Ben Carson is firing back at a CNN report that brings up questions about his childhood in Detroit.

The article, which Carson called “a bunch of lies” in a Friday interview with the news network, notes that several of Carson’s childhood friends were unable to recall a series of violent episodes that Carson describes in his autobiography.

In his book Gifted Hands, Carson says he once struck another boy with a rock, attempted to hit his mother in a dispute over clothes and tried to stab a friend in the stomach with a knife. After speaking directly to God, Carson says he had a spiritual awakening that drastically changed his demeanor and gave him the ability to better control his anger.

The narrative of transformation from an angry boy from inner-city Detroit to a world-renowned neurosurgeon has been a central component of Carson’s appeal. But in the CNN article, childhood friends didn’t remember the incidents and described him as “quiet, bookish and nerdy.”

Carson has said that he won’t reveal the full names of the victims of his attacks out of respect for their privacy and accused CNN of using the report as a distraction from important issues. “This is a bunch of lies attempting to say I’m lying about my history,” Carson said on CNN. “I think it’s pathetic, and basically what the media does is they try to get you distracted with all of this stuff so that you don’t talk about the things that are important.”

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