Just minutes after Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson called questions about his ties to a controversial nutritional supplement company "totally unfair," his longtime business manager and confidant said the exact opposite -- that such questions were "absolutely" fair and not "gotcha" questions.
During Wednesday's CNBC debate, Carson was asked about his 10-year relationship with Mannatech, a nutritional supplements company that paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas. Carson, who appeared in promotional videos for Mannatech's products, said the idea he had any involvement with the company was "total propaganda."
In an interview Thursday with NewsMaxTV's Steve Malzberg Show, Carson said of the question, "That was very unfair, I think I made that clear." Earlier in the interview Carson said the CNBC questioners made the debate "a gotcha interview" and a "gotcha debate." Carson said he gave the debate, "the lowest mark you can give it."
Just minutes after his interview with NewsMaxTV was posted, however, Carson's longtime business manager, spokesman, and confidant, Armstrong Williams, declared on CNN's The Lead that the question was not a gotcha question and was "absolutely" fair.
"I actually negotiated the contract as his business manager," Williams said of Mannatech. Williams said Carson went to Arizona and was supposed to read a script for Mannatech but felt uncomfortable doing so. Carson gave a speech booked by his speaking agency but decided to end any relationship after that.
"He said, 'I'm not gonna say this. I'm not comfortable with this.' He said, 'I don't believe this," Williams said.
After the speech, Williams said, Carson made it clear to him he needed to get him out of any contract they had.