Jill Stein

Politico Tries to Play Gotcha with Jill Stein's Comments on Gary Johnson's 'World Leader' Gotcha

Playing stupid.


Last night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews asked Gary Johnson to name three foreign leaders that he admired. Rather than rejecting the question for its implicitly pro-government bias and as a silly thing to ask someone running for president, Johnson tried to answer by listing former Mexican president Vicente Fox and blanked on the name, saying it was another "Aleppo moment." (Maybe soon they'll be calling them Gary Johnson moments.)

Within minutes, social media was ablaze with users who probably couldn't name a world leader (except maybe for Justin Trudeau, who's become something of a favorite of social media progressives) claiming that Johnson couldn't name a foreign leader at all, when the question was about leaders you respected.

It was a dumb question to ask someone running for president of the United States, yet it was a totally unsurprising question from a worshipper of the state like Chris Matthews (who is one of a few media personalities that supported both Obama and President Bush before him).

Today, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who has some common cause with Gary Johnson around the exclusion of third parties from the mainstream presidential election process, decided to pile on, tweeting out that she could name three world leaders she admired—Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada; Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom; and the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil.

Politico's Daniel Strauss jumped in to breathlessly report that Stein had also failed to name any world leaders. Stein's answers "aren't technically world leaders, as none holds a top position in their country's government." Technically, of course, that's not the definition of a "world leader." It's almost as arbitrary a distinction as Matthews' definition, which included current and former leaders but not dead ones. Strauss also referred to João Pedro Stédile as one of the three leaders, but technically the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil does not have a formal leadership structure.

The Politico article, which caught my attention when it was shared by Clinton supporters on my Facebook feed, is illustrative of a number of somewhat overlapping phenomena in mainstream media today. It illustrates the willful obtuseness displayed by some members of the media about the things politicians say. I find it difficult to believe that Strauss actually believed Jill Stein thought Corbyn, May, and a leaderless movement were heads of state or government. But if he didn't believe that, the article was intentionally deceptive. It illustrates the stupidity of gotcha moments and the stupidity of trying to exploit the gotcha moments of others. It illustrates the complexity of the so-called "fact check" (Is Jeremy Corbyn a foreign leader? Fact check: depends on your facts) and it illustrates the often vacuous-masquerading-as-deep critiques of candidates some of the media offers up. There are substantive critiques of Jill Stein, and every candidate, that can be made. Willfully misreading tweets and the things candidates say is not one of them.

Responding to my comment based on Twitter, Stein suggested that Politico was "just trying to play gotcha to distract from their favored candidate's awful foreign policy record." It's hard to disagree with that assessment.

NEXT: So Brave: This University of Michigan Kid Selected 'His Majesty' as Personal Pronoun

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Willful obtuseness describes every internet argument ever.

    1. I know you are but what am I.

      1. A free-market NAZI?

        1. You know who else was a free-market nazi?

        2. The Nazis wore gray. I wore blue.

          1. That’s the opening line to the Worst. Folk. Song. Ever.

            1. Isn’t the worst folk song ever *all of them*?

              1. Wrong. Try “Harpa” or “Tvo Ravner”, two of the best songs ever, both ancient as fuck folk songs.

  2. Jeremy Corbyn? Really? Him?

    1. Well, she is functionally retarded.

      1. Functionally? You are being awfully generous there.

        1. I don’t think SoCal meant “functionally retarded” in the sense of “functioning alcoholic”, “functioning despite impairment”. “practically”, maybe? “doesn’t meet the medical definition of retarded, but for practical purposes it’s close enough.”

          1. Ah no, I think he meant ‘functionally retarded’ as in replying to an ‘Arrested development joke with another’.

      2. Why do you say that? Sure he is left-wing, but so is mrs. Stein. Why does that make her “functionally retarded”?

        I disagree with his economic proposals but he is certainly better than Milliband, Saquid Khan or similar cancer.

  3. Well said.

  4. I want to see a version of this video with Jill Stein in the cook’s role.

  5. …and Politico smeared Jill Stein as a vaxxer despite her explicit comments to the contrary. If HRC loses one of the great things about that is watching all these sanctimonious and arrogant liberals, who classify any criticism of her Her Eminence Hillary Rodham Clinton, eat shit.

    1. You know you’ll be freaking out and checking the prices of first class plane tickets to Montreal. Let’s not pretend here. Sure, you’d love Stein to win as she’s the only one of your ideal candidates – murderously insane – still in the race but you’d have a shit fit if Trump or, God forbid *Johnson* (the only thing worse that an a Trump win would be a Libertarian one) took the Oval Office.

    2. They did the same thing to Rand Paul. I remember your furious indignation about that too.

  6. I almost want to set up a twitter just so I can go to her page and say “Congratulations, you answered a retarded gotcha questions after 8 hours and the chance to google.”

    1. Eh, her choices were people an ardent lefty would know, she probably could have listed them on the spot.

  7. A left leaning friend sent me a NY Times article about this with the title “Gary Johnson Can’t Name a Single World Leader.”

    In addition to pointing out how misleading that title is I said his inability to answer shouldn’t be surprising considering how libertarians tend to view politicians in general. Johnson doesn’t seem to be very articulate as well.

    Then I sent him a link to Sugarfree’s blog. I wonder if we are still friends?

    1. Then I sent him a link to Sugarfree’s blog. I wonder if we are still friends?

      He’s probably gouged his eyeballs out and poured bleach into the sockets by now.

    2. Note to self: steal this idea.

      1. Wouldn’t that be a violation of the Non-Aggression Axiom, Crusty?

        I can see sharing an Agile Cyborg post germane to the points and arguments made by the individual who’s mind you want altered, Crusty, yet, as CA has already mentioned, a SugarFree post might be too much.

        How have you been? I’ve been away for some time and I’ve often wondered about you in this regard, Crusty, …. Jill Stein, yea or nay?

        1. He already did her – just twenty years ago.

          1. Do you think that it was it consensual, Aggy?

            In all seriousness now, how have you been?
            I hope well.
            As I implied earlier to Crusty I’ve been away for a short time and haven’t looked at the articles and the comments here at H&R.

            Have Epi and Nikki returned? I see that HM and a few others (including you) I cannot wish ill are still making posts.

            1. I’m doing well, thank you. I don’t know what happened to Episiarch or Nikki. They just wandered off and haven’t been back.

  8. Politico’s Daniel Strauss jumped in to breathlessly report that Stein had also failed to name any world leaders. Stein’s answers “aren’t technically world leaders, as none holds a top position in their country’s government.”

    Daniel Strauss sounds like he’s roughly the same age your average Gamespot.com commenter. Try this some time: go to Gamespot, and make a hit style sarcastic comment and see how quickly the local commenters take you dead literally.

    1. They are all 20 something liberal arts majors who were too stupid to get an education degree. You can’t overstate how stupid and vile these people are.

      It is fun to call out reason for suddenly deciding this bullshit now that their Johnson got stepped on, but the truth is it is all bullshit. Political journalists are just cretins.

      1. “Political journalists are just cretins.”

        And sweaty orange racists are statesmen.

        1. Hey, Ed is not that much of a cretin.

        2. The President is black, not orange.

          1. That’s the opening line to the Second. Worst. Folk. Song. Ever.

            1. I said if you’re thinkin’ of being my brother
              It don’t matter if you’re black or orange.

              *a group of folk dancers start morphing into one another*

    2. He looks like what would happen if the Overeem brothers stopped taking steroids and also had prematurely receding hairlines.

    3. I can proudly say that I’ve never actually read the comment section on GameSpot. Not even because I decided not too actually; I just realized it just seems instinctive.

    4. Technicly a world leader would have to hold a top position in world government, I’d think. Otherwise he’d just be a national leader.

      1. WHICH IS probably what choked Johnson. He realised if he were to reveal the identities of the three people in actually charge of the world government, it’d queer the whole m?lange. At best, they’d probably assassinate him and his entire family. At worst, they’d ramp up their plans and fuck the earth harder and faster than they have been doing.

  9. Suddenly “gotcha” moments are so pass?. When Reason was cackling like hyenas about Bush or Palin or Trump’s various bullshit media created gaffes, they were totally indicative of the person’s character and intelligence. Suddenly, reason has had a change of heart on the issue. What could possibly have caused that?

  10. Current leaders?

    Alexis Tsipras
    Angela Merkel
    Justin Trudeau
    And, uh, Raul Castro.

    1. Yup, still dumber than a bag of doorknobs.

    2. Wow. A admitted murderer and a bunch of people who’ve driven or are in the process of driving their countries into the ground.

    3. How can one simultaneously admire Merkel and Tsipras? I wouldn’t say they’re opposites, but they’re definitely enemies. Or is Merkel just on there because you need at least one woman to seem woke and Roussef doesn’t quite make the cut?

      1. “Or is Merkel just on there because you need at least one woman to seem woke and Roussef doesn’t quite make the cut?”

        Someone told commie-kid she was female, and that did the trick.
        You expect that dim-bulb to think?!

    4. Those dildoes are not leading the world. They can’t even lead their own fucking countries. Come on!

  11. Politico …
    Playing stupid.

    Must be a day that ends in “y”.

  12. “I’ll Aleppo you right across the side of the head, hotshot.”

    1. the “I’ll” should be omitted:

      “Aleppo you right across-a the face, Gabrone.”

  13. Colin Kapernick.

    The guy from the Lucky Charms box.

    And Nigel Farage.

  14. “Rather than rejecting the question for its implicitly pro-government bias and as a silly thing to ask someone running for president”

    The cognitive dissonance/butthurt is palpable. Is running for president of the United States not implicitly pro-government?

    That would be what Gary Johnson is doing and random internet liberals, who you think should have comparable knowledge, are not.

    1. ” Is running for president of the United States not implicitly pro-government?”
      Um, no Tony, it’s not. No more than jumping up in the air is inherently anti-gravity. He is (or the naive among us would like to believe) he’s running for president to reduce the scope of the government. You’re suggesting that the only anti-government thing to do is curl up and pretend the government doesn’t exist.

      1. I’m just going by the author’s formulation, which is that knowing facts about governments is to take a pro-government ideological stance.

        1. “I’m just going by the author’s formulation, which is that knowing facts about governments is to take a pro-government ideological stance.”

          So you can’t read, either?
          The question regarding ‘admired foreign leaders’ =/= ‘knowing facts about governments’.
          Are you so stupid I had to point that out to you? Or so fucking dishonest you were hoping the rest of us didn’t see your attempt at misdirection?

    2. The cognitive dissonance/butthurt is palpable

      Did you just copy those terms from some lefty site? Did you think they had any connection at all to the rest of what you posted?
      Did you take your meds?

  15. OT – Excerpts from the platform of Darryl Perry, the “pure libertarian” candidate mentioned in an earlier post:

    “I believe”

    “that all coercive forms of taxation should be eliminated, and government programs should be funded voluntarily.”

    “that the United States government, as it exists today, should be abolished!”

    “12. Secession and Self-Determination

    “I fully support the right of self-determination; that is the right of “determination by the people of a territorial unit of their own future political status.” Though there are no established guidelines regarding how a group of people exercise their right of self-determination. During the 1860’s several States attempted to leave the United States of America, several counties in these States took secession one step further and seceded from their seceding State. It was this act of self-determination that allowed West Virginia to become a State, it also led to several “Free State’s” throughout the Confederacy.”

    1. Except the “I believe” part. What the blazes? It’s not a matter of fucking belief. We’re not talking about Torture or Santa Claus. Belief doesn’t enter into it. Holy fuck. What a bozo? Maybe we should give him a break? In this age when folks talk about belief and opinion and view and how it seems or how it feels when they’re talking about something they can see with their cursed eyes and taste it hot esbozo? I don’t feel an answer.

  16. Is running for president of the United States not implicitly pro-government?

    Depends if you intend to continue the status quo or not?

    1. Do you mean the status quo of having a government?

      1. The status quo of the size and scope of the government. It’s not a binary variable; there can be less, there can be more. You’re failing at basic logic here.

        Even an anarchist running for president with the intention of using the position to abolish the government is not self-contradictory (which I say as a non-anarchist).

        By your reasoning, in the 1850s, an abolitionist buying slaves in order to free them was implicitly supporting slavery.

        1. Reread the sentence I’m critiquing and see if it makes any goddamn sense.

          1. I did, and no.
            It only makes sense if you are stupid enough to presume any government is equivalent to any other government.
            You are that stupid, right?

      2. Tony|9.29.16 @ 7:03PM|#
        “Do you mean the status quo of having a government?”

        So the murderous Stalinesque gov’t of the USSR is exactly equal to the free market gov’t of post WWII Hong Kong?
        You are a product of gov’t schools, aren’t you?

    2. Well, I’ve been told that a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Somalia-style anarchy, so I’m going to say no, running for president isn’t implicitly pro-government.

      But even snark aside, if someone could wave a magic wand and make me president, I’d spend however many weeks or months I could until I were assassinated or impeached eliminating government power at every turn, starting with the executive.

    3. rather, depends on if he intends to RESTORE the status quo ante bellum.

  17. Tony and AmSoc taking shits all across this thread.


    1. Yeah it’s not really the cripple fight from South Park; it’s more like Mr. Garrison fighting with Mr. Hat.

  18. Vincente Fox? Are you sure GayJay didn’t mean Santa Ana?

    1. I’m fairly certain Santa Ana regretted legalized prostitution at least one time.

  19. But didn’t he didn’t believe that . . .

    Paragraph 6, Line 5.

    Say, you guys need a subeditor perchance?

  20. OT, and it’s laughable to be ‘defending’ that blow-hard:

    “Donald Trump allegedly wanted only beautiful women working at his California golf course”
    “Donald Trump wanted only attractive women working at his Southern California golf course, according to claims made in court records from a 2012 broad labor relations lawsuit and a separate retaliation claim the Los Angeles Times reviewed.”

    Who would ever choose employees for their appearance?! Why, imagine if this guy ran an advertising agency!

  21. There is no good answer to that question. Any selection you make will piss off more world leaders than it pleases, and leave you open to second-guessing from everyone who disagrees.
    I learned to dodge such questions back when an aunt asked me which uncle I liked best.

    1. Kofin Annan, Butrus Gali, Buckwheat Zydeco.

  22. I was shocked that anyone wouldn’t know Aleppo from history, considering it being one of the most important places in European history, but could understand how somebody wouldn’t know all the details about what the flipping Syrians are doing over there today, especially since it really doesn’t matter in detail. Then talking to folks, I discovered I’m the only one in my circle who remembers it from history class. So, who cares?

  23. Can we please stop calling politicians “leaders”? Please? Please?

  24. What Johnson should have said is “Chris unlike you there are no politicians foreign or domestic that send shivers up my leg.

  25. What Johnson should have said is Sir John Cowperthwaite.

    At some point during our first conversation I managed to irk him by suggesting that he was chiefly known “for doing nothing.” In fact, he pointed out, keeping the British political busy-bodies from interfering in Hong Kong’s economic affairs took up a large portion of his time. Throughout Sir John’s tenure in office, the British political elite tried to impose its own ailing socialist economic model on Britain’s colonies, including Hong Kong. Sir John managed to quash all such attempts and Hong Kong benefited as a result. In 2004, the World Bank estimated, Hong Kong’s per capita income adjusted for purchasing power parity (GNI PPP) was $31,510. Great Britain’s 2004 GNI PPP was $31,460.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.