• Misleading Headlines About Gary Johnson and Foreign Leaders

    Ever since yesterday’s Hardball interview with Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, there have been a lot of people on social media posting that he could not name a single foreign leader. Headlines from sites like NBC News, The New York Times, and USA Today seem to confirm that.

    nytimes-gary-johnson nbc-gary-johnson


    Even NPR is guilty of a misleading headline, but it seems to have been updated now.


    But is that what really happened? Let’s take a look at the interview.

    What actually happened is that he was asked who his favorite current foreign leader is and he couldn’t think of anyone. He poked fun at himself and said he had an “Aleppo moment.” That’s hardly the same thing as being unable to name a current leader period. Some will then say, “Okay, you’re right. But he’s still an idiot for not being able to name a favorite leader.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s uneducated about other leaders, just that there’s none that he currently admires. From his point of view, that makes sense. He has a libertarian viewpoint, which means few, if any, current leaders would be great in his mind. A liberal might respond, “But I like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada! How can he not know about him?” Okay, that’s fine if you like Trudeau. Johnson may know who he is, but that doesn’t mean he admires him.


    Johnson tweeted today that he still can’t name one he admires, affirming that there simply aren’t any that fit his views.


    My point here isn’t to convince you to support Gary Johnson or agree with his answer. One can argue something else he actually said that they disagree with, but that isn’t what this is about. It’s about spreading false information and how we can prevent ourselves from doing this. I’ve seen skeptics – who’ve scolded others for believing things based on misleading headlines – do it themselves with this Johnson interview. Just because you dislike a candidate doesn’t mean the methods of fact checking and reading before you share suddenly don’t apply. I am not a Trump supporter, but I will correct people who make inaccurate claims about him. I wish people who dislike libertarian ideals would do the same.

    It’s also disappointing that multiple news sites did this: News sources that many people would consider to be legitimate. It’s bad enough when BuzzFeed, InfoWars, or The Free Thought Project have misleading headlines, but most people expect more from NPR and The New York Times.

    Category: skepticism


    Article by: Cherry Teresa

    Cherry Teresa is a blogger and musician from Los Angeles, CA who includes skepticism and humanism in her work. Her music can be heard at cherryteresa.com.
    • I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration. There are many great world leaders. If you’ve never heard of even one of them, you’re not fit to be President by way of ignorance. He couldn’t even name one that he admitted he does admire (former Pres. of Mexico). Might’ve said Sarkozy, Merkel, .. a good libertarian choice might be former Pres. Jorge Sampaio of Portugal, who presided over the decriminalization of drugs in 2001 (and arguably Dr. João Goulão, though he’s more of an administrator).

      • I don’t think Chris Matthews would’ve accepted Sampaio as a current leader, considering he didn’t accept Johnson saying former President Fox of Mexico was one.

        • He was working in UN positions as recently as 2013 and continues to be engaged in international education and social projects. That sounds like a leader to me. I’d not accept Matthews insistence nobody is a leader other than a current head-of-state.
          But even if he balked at Sampaio, at least Johnson would in fact have named a contemporary world leader he admired instead of stammering like a nitwit.

          • Halcyon

            Meanwhile…. Hillary Clinton is busy buying votes, perjuring herself in front of congress.

            Trump is out there saying
            “HAWEKAN^ha6t8fffffffffartrgrgrhgrgrgrgrgrgr” and whatever other vomit trickles out.

            You seriously need to put things into perspective. Sure, Gary has had a couple of gaffes, but these are such ridiculously minute.

            LOOK at Johnson’s record.
            LOOK at Johnson’s success.
            LOOK before you pass this ridiculous judgment.

            I didn’t know what Aleppo was either. I’m busy. I am providing for a family. I am trying to deal with the CHAOS that these two atrociously CORRUPT political parties have left for myself and my family.

            Oh hey! I’m making more money! American Dream! Success! I’m doing it! Yeah!

            Oh hey! WAIT! $TWO F*KNG THOUSAND DOLLARS WITH A THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLAR FKNG DEDUCTIBLE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE! Thanks Congress! Thanks Obama! Thanks for the $4000 bandaids!

            Sounds great! Where do I sign up for bankruptcy! OH! I CAN’T! I CAN’T DO IT! Because bankruptcy doesn’t also get rid of student loans that I can’t pay off because I’m having to pay a goddamn fortune for something that cost my family ONE TENTH of what it does now all of four YEARS ago.

            IS THIS AMERICA? NO.

            LOOK AT THE ISSUES, you goddamned, moron.

            OH NO. He didn’t answer a question that absolutely NOTHING to do with the failing DOMESTIC policy that he is an EXPERT in.

            OH GODS, STOP THE PRESS!

            Get over yourself.

            • Tusocalypse

              Agree. You wanna talk nitwit. Hillary during the debate:

              I realize the email thing was a huge mistake and I take full responsibility for it.

              Really? If she took full responsibility, she would confess and have formal charges brought up against her (if the justice department could pull their head out of their ass), plead guilty and go to prison for a long time. That’s taking full responsibility.

            • Your remarks are unduly insulting and abusive. I would ask that you mind our standards of decorum, or avoid commenting here.

            • Halcyon

              I’m sorry I thought this was America. I have the right to be angry.

            • Here’s how America works. You get to have your own website if you want. You can put whatever you want on it (within the law). You can decide what content or discussion is appropriate because you own it. Well this website is mine. I own it. And the kind of content I want here is constructive, respectful discussion. That is my right. Because America.

            • Halcyon

              That’s perfectly acceptable, however I must point out that you attacked my words rather than the reasons behind them.

              There’s the reasons
              WHY I’m angry. Either I pay they mortgage, or health care. That’s not freedom. That’s slavery. Wage slavery to be precise.

              Clump only keeps the status quo. How is Johnson, a domestic policy expert, a bad thing for the country?

    • MarkR

      Really Edward, the headlines are sensationalistic efforts to make Johnson look like an idiot. It is a complete exaggeration. Watch the interview. Of course he has heard of many world leaders. He readily identified Fox but just could not think of his name. Have you ever been in a stressful situation (and I am sure his schedule and endless appearances before cameras are quite stressful) where you simply could not remember a name that you KNEW you knew. But you just could not think of it to save your life. I have and I completely understand. Perfect is the enemy of good. And Gary Johnson is good. PS – Thanks Cherry for one of the best splains on this I’ve seen today.

      • Johnson doesn’t need anyone’s help looking like an idiot. I agree that the headlines are inappropriately biased. But not by much. This should not be an instance where there’s only one name you can think of. And yes, I do understand how being under pressure can affect you. That’s why you don’t get to be President if you can’t perform under pressure. You think Presidents Clinton, Obama, etc.., weren’t under pressure when they sat in front of reporters asking them questions to gauge their knowledge and savvy? Of course they were. They were just better men.

        And Johnson isn’t perfect or good.

        • Jack Rawlinson

          Thank you. Anyone who thinks that stumbling performance can be excused is being ridiculous. The people who defend this shockingly ignorant chancer remind me of those who endlessly excuse Trump’s gaffes. This guy is no more up to being a world leader than old squirrel head is.

    • It’s no surprise that a libertarian candidate doesn’t admire too many current heads of state. It is a bit surprising that he failed to articulate why that is (as you did) right there on the spot.

      • Yeah, I think it would’ve been better if he boldly stated, “No one” and explained why.

        • Instead he called himself out as having an “Aleppo moment”. A characterization that means spacing out and being unable to answer.. not taking a principled stand against a loaded question (which I agree with Damion, is totally fair game).

    • JasonTorpy

      He was clearly stumped and deserves to be made fun of. He couldn’t think on his feet well enough to respond to the question. Any presidential candidate will have lots and lots of opportunities to ‘respond’ to questions rather than answering them directly. That may be due to ignorance or due to knowing way too much. He was flummoxed. Weld was doing fine right beside him. Lots of good options. He could have picked a non-governmental leader like MLK or M. Ali. He could have said, ‘as a libertarian, I look up to citizens not leaders’. good intro to libertarian talking points. ‘Who’s your favorite world leader’ is a softball and Matthews was right to run him down when he fumbled such an easy question.

      • Chirpy

        Yes, I like my politicians slick and ready with the fake zingers and propaganda. It always makes me feel good inside when they are able to lie on the spot. Love it.

        I say this as someone who wouldn’t vote for him because he is Libertarian.

        Let’s see, should I pick the war-monger that has bombed Allepo or someone who doesn’t know that small city?

        Hillary armed ISIS in Syria to nation-build the leader into his grave, like they did with Saddam, Gaddafi, and others.

        She came, she saw, the darkness inside her grew.