Editorial

Pompous pundits are ignorant

Monday, September 12, 2016

Media Research Center analysts examined 1,713 political campaign stories that appeared on ABC, CBS and NBC from Jan. 1 through the end of August, finding that GOP nominee Donald Trump got 1,773 minutes of coverage, Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton got 1,020 minutes, Libertarian Gary Johnson got 11 seconds, independent candidate Evan McMullin got 33 seconds, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein got three seconds.

Cable news channels CNN, FOX and MSNBC have done a bit more on third party and independent candidates, often condescending pieces about lost causes.

On Sept. 8, Gary Johnson appeared on the MSNBC show 'Morning Joe' and was asked about the Syrian city of Aleppo. Johnson asked, "What's Aleppo?"

Hahaha! Finally, the regular networks had a news story about Johnson's ignorance for the evening news. The print media was even quicker to pile on. According to Slate online news magazine, the New York Times ran a story on its website late morning or early afternoon about Johnson's ignorance of Aleppo, which it termed "the de facto capital of the Islamic State."

But Aleppo is not the de facto capital of the Islamic State. That is Raqqa. The NYT then revised its story to identify Aleppo as an "ISIS stronghold." This is also incorrect. Aleppo is the site of fighting between Syrian government forces and non-ISIS rebel groups. ISIS does not have a significant presence in the city.

The NYT then revised its story to describe Aleppo simply as "wartorn," which is accurate, although a hyphen was needed and later added. However, a correction added at the bottom of the article misidentified Aleppo as the capital of Syria (it's Damascus), which created the need for an additional correction of the correction in the NYT.

Before this all played out, MSNBC was displaying astonishment at Johnson's gaffe. That same morning on 'Morning Joe', Christopher Hill, who was a U.S. ambassador to Iraq under Obama, made a snarky criticism of Johnson's ignorance, stating, in part, "But the capital of ISIS is very much in the news, especially in the past two days, but for the last two years. And for him to draw that kind of blank ' and, by the way, boy, was that a blank stare on his face, I was wondering if he was talking about something called 'an Aleppo,' and was confused by that. I couldn't figure it out. It was just mind-blowing.!"

None of the pundits at 'Morning Joe' pointed out Hill's error in calling Aleppo "the capital of ISIS,. Apparently, none of them knew it was an error..