(CNSNews.com) - Ben Carson insists that he was an angry young man who threw rocks at cars, tried to knife a friend, and almost whacked his mother on the head with a hammer.
"Those claims are absolutely true. You know, I am a hundred percent sure that they're true," Carson told Fox News on Thursday, after CNN ran a story casting doubt on Carson's tale of youthful misdeeds.
Carson called the CNN report "simply an attempt to smear and to deflect the argument to something else."
In a report dubbed "a tale of two Ben Carsons," CNN reported on Thursday that two of its reporters tracked down 10 of Carson's former schoolmates and neighbors in Detroit: "None challenged Carson's story directly," CNN reported. "Only one said they'd heard vague rumors about one of the incidents, but all said this was not the boy they knew."
CNN said it has not been able to locate victims or witnesses to the various violent outbursts Carson has described in his book, "Gifted Hands."
Carson told Fox News's Megyn Kelly on Thursday, "I never used the true names of people in books, you know, to protect the innocent. You know, that's something that people have done for decades, for centuries. That's something that's commonly done.
"You know, the person that I tried to stab, you know, I talked to today -- said, would they want to be revealed? They were not anxious to be revealed. And it was a close relative of mine. And I didn't want to put their lives under the spotlight.
"This is something that I've decided to do. None of those people decided that they wanted to do this. And the media is ruthless. So, you know, I would say to the people of America, do you think I'm a pathological liar like CNN does? Or do you think I'm an honest person? And I'm going to leave that up to the American people to make that decision."
Carson called the CNN investigation "silly."
"Because when I would have flashes of temper, it would only be the people who were directly involved. It wouldn't be something that everybody else would know. And, as far as the episode in junior high is concerned, none of those people that they talked to knew about what was going on at Hunter Junior High School? I mean, that's just silly to think that they would know."
Kelly noted that CNN has questioned one incident where Carson says he tried to attack his own mother with a hammer but was stopped by his brother, who grabbed his arm. "One time you told that story saying you had a hammer. One time you didn't mention a hammer," Kelly noted.
"It's always been a hammer," Carson replied. "But also remember, these are things that happened over 50 years ago."
According to the CNN report, people who knew the young Ben Carson can't believe he had a bad temper. "They described you as quiet, nerdy with glasses, skinny and unremarkable," Kelly said. "Do you feel like this is the beginning, Dr. Carson? The beginning of some in the media trying to end your candidacy?" she asked him.
"Yes, it's a smear campaign," Carson repeated. "But, you know, I'm not going to play that game with them. They can do it all they want. They're going to go back and try to find anything that I've ever said and try to get me on defensive about it in order to distract away from the things that are important. But, in our country right now, you know, we have divisiveness going on and hatred. We have a fiscal situation that threatens to destroy the future for our children. We have military deterioration when we have enemies who wanted to destroy us.
"There's so much going on that we need to be dealing with. And this is just garbage. And they don't want to talk about it because they don't have good solutions for it."
For the record, Carson has said at age 14, he tried to kill someone identified as "Bob" in a disagreement over music on the radio.
"I had a large camping knife and I tried to stab him in the abdomen. And fortunately, under his clothing he had on a large metal belt buckle. And the knife blade struck with such force, that it broke."
Carson says he changed at that moment, thanks to the power of prayer, and he says he has never had another angry outburst since then.
But CNN reporter Maeve Reston says her network finds it "really odd" that Carson's campaign "will not help us find any of these people or eyewitnesses who can talk about what happened during this time.
"And this is a really important piece of vetting a presidential candidate," Reston said on Thursday. "We went about this story to find these people to talk to them about Dr. Carson's temper, this moment that he had with God where he said that the temper went away from that point forward. And that's an important thing to know for someone who is going to be in the Oval Office."