Gary Johnson’s gaffe on MSNBC was by no means out of the ordinary during presidential campaigns. It’s just that if it happens to be a Democrat committing the gaffe, it’s always interpreted by those in the media as being a “misunderstood” statement. Or, it was “taken out of context” by the right-wing media. Here’s what happened:
Anyone who’s not a Democrat will be mocked and ridiculed for even the slightest misspeaking.
The New York Times piled on the Libertarian nominee, saying that his lack of geographical knowledge feeds into the stereotype that libertarians are “isolationist” and generally ambivalent – and ignorant – when it comes to foreign policy. But in their criticism of Johnson’s embarrassing statement, they threw in a couple of their own gaffes for good measure. From Breitbart:
The New York Times was forced to issue two separate corrections after misidentifying the city as both the political capital of Syria and the capital of the Islamic State.
Aleppo, while a pivotal outpost in the Syrian civil war, is neither. It has recently become the focal point of fighting between Syrian rebel groups and dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“Mr. Johnson indicated that he really was not aware of the city, which has been widely covered during the years that Syria has been engulfed in civil war,” the New York Times’ Alan Rappeport writes, later noting that “some even attributed the flub to Mr. Johnson’s acknowledged use of marijuana.”
The Times was forced to issue the following corrections on Rappeport’s article:
Some would argue that Gary Johnson’s unfamiliarity with the Syrian city of Aleppo was so significant that he should be disqualified. That’s a pretty high bar to set, considering that these same people roasting Johnson are the same ones who defend Hillary’s high crimes and misdemeanors.
She can get away with using a private home server to send and receive classified information during and after her tenure as Secretary of State; as soon as she finds out she’s under investigation, she can destroy evidence against her by smashing over a dozen of her electronic devices with hammers, and wiping her private server clean with BleachBit; she can run a pay-to-play scheme through the Clinton Foundation where celebrities, corporate executives, and foreign dignitaries would donate hundreds of thousands of dollars each just to be able to access her and her political connections; then she can lie about the entire thing, claim she didn’t know the rules, or that she “could not recall” what happened. All that’s perfectly fine.
But a non-Democrat stumbles over a city in the Middle East, and that’s enough to disqualify him from running for president. Makes perfect sense.
I’m not here to defend the former New Mexico Governor and now-Libertarian nominee. I don’t know what he was thinking. Later, he said that he was thinking that “ALEPPO” must have been an acronym, one that he was obviously not familiar with.
If you look at the transcript of the interview, the Aleppo question was way out of the blue. It had nothing to do with what they had just been talking about, which was Mike Barnicle’s question about the potential for the “Nader effect” in November. Johnson responded that he wasn’t worried about it and talked about the brokenness of the two-party system, and then Barnicle responded with a question about Aleppo. In context, it was out of the blue. And that’s okay. Presidential candidates should expect the unexpected from the media.
I think it was a gaffe on Johnson’s part, but not a huge one. He was taken off guard. It was nothing compared to Rick Perry’s “oops” moment at one of the debates where he forgot which federal departments he was wanted to eliminate. Or Herman Cain’s blank-out moment on Libya:
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