Mother Jones on Tuesday flagged the remark from Carson's Oct. 19, 2014 speech at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. After an audience member asked Carson about running as an independent—Carson said he wouldn't "want to fracture" the GOP by doing so—the retired neurosurgeon referred to an ambiguous "they" who he accused of infiltrating the American media and school system with the goal of "fundamentally changing this nation."
"Everything was perfect. Except they underestimated the intelligence of the American people," Carson said. "The people are not as stupid as they think they are."
"Many of them are stupid, okay," he added to laughs from the audience. "But I'm talking about overall."
Carson also credited social media and Fox News with enabling him to spread his message outside of the mainstream media.
"Even if all the media tries to shut you down—which they have tried very much to do with me," he said. "But they can't because the good Lord has provided me with mechanisms like my syndicated column and like Fox News. We'd be Cuba if there were no Fox News."
Watch below at the 17:45 mark:
This post has been updated to clarify that Carson joked "many" Americans are stupid.