Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 08, 2016

NYT Shaming Of Gary Johnson Fails With Four(!) Hilarious Mistakes

The U.S. election campaigns and their news coverage are generally embarrassing. But this incident of miss-coverage by the acclaimed paper of record beats many others. While attempting to criticize a candidate's lack of awareness or knowledge the NYT author and his editors demonstrate four times that they have neither.

The libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was asked a question of foreign policy relevance and did not know the answer. The question was about a city in Syria but, like it or not, no city in Syria has significant relevance in the general context of the U.S. presidential elections.

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson asked after he did not get some question about it.

The New York Times, which mocks any candidate but Hillary Clinton, found that small lapses remarkable enough to write a whole piece about it. But its reporter and his editors show a bigger lack on knowledge than Johnson did. The headline: ‘What Is Aleppo?’ Gary Johnson Asks, in an Interview Stumble. The reporter, one Alan Rappeport, did not know either.  Here is the first version he and his editors put out:

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

No. Aleppo is not the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

Some time later the NYT editors were made aware of that and changed the text. But check the result:

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is a stronghold of the Islamic State.

This new version in the NYT was just as wrong as the first one. The largest parts of Aleppo city, as well as of its population, are within the realm of the Syrian government. Parts of east-Aleppo are in the hands of al-Qaeda. The Islamic State, an enemy of both the government and al-Qaeda, has no significant presence (if any at all) in any part of the city.

Later on someone told the editors that the once corrected version was just as wrong as the original one. Another correction was applied:

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the war-torn Syrian city.

That at least fits. But all the corrections do not explain why the NYT author describes Aleppo as especially significant to the refugee crisis. True, a lot of people have moved out of al-Qaeda infested east-Aleppo. But most of the moved into the government held west-Aleppo, not abroad. Other Syrian cities, like Idleb or Raqqa, have proportionally lost many more of their original population than Aleppo city did.

No immediate Correction note was added when the first change of the original text was made. (No Correction note was added for the second change.) Some time after the first correction was made the NYT added this note:

An earlier version of this article misidentified the de facto capital of the Islamic State. It is Raqqa, in northern Syria, not Aleppo, the Syrian capital.

Yes, the editors botched the Correction note. Aleppo is not the Syrian capital, Damascus is.

About an hour later this minor fact was made known to the NYT staff and a Correction of the Correction was added.

The NYT exhibits a serious lack of knowledge in a piece that is supposed to ridicule a politician for his lack of knowledge. It is:

  • making a major mistake in a central fact of the original piece,
  • applying a correction that is just as wrong as the original version,
  • applying a second correction but still getting the major basic fact wrong and
  • applying a correction note with a huge mistake that again demonstrates a basic lack of factual knowledge.

This embarrassing episode shows again that neither U.S. politicians nor U.S. media have any real knowledge of issues beyond U.S. borders. Despite that sorry fact deadly instruments of U.S. power are used abroad without much thought whenever this or that foreign interest bribes the right people in Washington DC. U.S. powers are often used simply because they can be used, not because it makes any sense to use them.

There is no reason for any U.S. politician to know about Aleppo but for the sorry fact that the U.S., through its proxies, kills the people of that city.

The U.S. should stop all interventions in foreign affairs. If only to spare its politicians, "experts" and media such demonstrations of their absurd incompetence.

Posted by b on September 8, 2016 at 16:34 UTC | Permalink

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Where are you getting your weather reports?

Posted by: Gravatomic | Sep 9, 2016 9:51:52 AM | 98

where are you getting yours?

Posted by: BadMax | Sep 9 2016 14:38 utc | 101

The earths tilt;I had an older half brother,a f*cking genius,Walter Foster,who unfortunately developed schizophrenia at 21,and descended into lifelong hospitalization in VA hospitals as the military was where he first stared showing symptoms.He worked on the Dew Line in Alaska and used to drive the Alaska Highway home to NY.
His unending effort to develop fusion reactors to change the earths tilt filled notebook after notebook and was a family laugh source.He passed away a few years ago,his life stolen by disease.
Count your blessings.

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 9 2016 14:53 utc | 102

fun stuff ... Greenwald's been attacking Russia-phobia on his twitter feed since a sudden burst last night ...

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 9 2016 15:32 utc | 103

ss @103

I love Greenwald's term 'warfare': govt largess ("welfare") for MIC

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 9 2016 15:47 utc | 104

I only see two major mistakes, not four as in the title: First, Rappeport identified Aleppo as the de facto capital of the Islamic State, and then he or his editor re-identified it as the capital of Syria. The first correction wasn't nuanced well, but wasn't blatantly false. And the final version still misleadingly suggests that Barnicle's question identified Aleppo as a Syrian city with a refugee situation, when in fact he jumped straight from the Nader effect on the 2000 election to something called a leppo (or maybe the acronym ALEPPO?), with no context, but this is just a routine error of omission.

But still the NYT's two clear-cut errors of commission outdo Johnson's misunderstanding of the context of the question.

Posted by: Hu McCulloch | Sep 9 2016 16:16 utc | 105

@5 juliania

Well, Mark, at #1, I'm part of the American public, and I knew all the correct answers about Aleppo that the NYT obviously didn't, but that's because unlike Gary Johnson, I have time to hunt up magnificent websites like MofA, instead of hoping the New York Times will TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO KNOW.

You nail the very essence of why so many launched alt news sites. Very well said.

Posted by: h | Sep 9 2016 16:22 utc | 106

Hmm. From Aleppo to Climate vs Weather.
Ya gotta love this site. (And I do ... )

Going back to former teacher ... I wish he/she had taught geography or geology to the readers herein.

One of the advantages of being a librarian is that one has to handle all sorts of questions ... not just one subject or another. It is a helluva good career if life-long learning appeals ...

Posted by: rg the lg | Sep 9 2016 17:08 utc | 107


”Sorry, this is just BS. If US foreign policy were being determined by bribes from foreigners, it would change with the change of personnel. Kerry wouldn't take the same bribes as Clinton, nor Bush the same bribes as Obama. On the contrary US foreign policy, military and otherwise, is astoundingly consistent,…[.]

Not BS at all.

The Saudis have bragged a 20% funding of HRC’s presidential campaign.

And we now know the pay-for-play with the CCFF - Clinton Crime Family Foundation - during her Secretary of State tenure.

~ ~ ~ ~

Now we know! At the end of HRC’s 2008 run for the presidency there was a mysterious payment of $35 million to cover her campaign debts.

~ ~ ~
OH, and as for yours “ it would change with the change of personnel”
A parliamentary system or a hybrid Republic, aka USA?

Here is former Congressman Ron Paul’s detailed reply:
Vote All You Want, The Secret Government Won't Change

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 9 2016 17:22 utc | 108

@108 The Saudi bribes could quickly evaporate if this goes through...

"US Congress has unanimously passed a bill allowing 9/11 victims' families to sue the Saudi government, on the eve of the attacks' 15th anniversary.
The House of Representatives held a voice vote on legislation that the Senate approved in May.
President Obama vowed again to reject the measure, but Republicans could overturn one of his vetoes for the first time if they secure enough votes.
Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, has denied any role in the attacks."

Posted by: dh | Sep 9 2016 17:29 utc | 109

Jenan Moussa, a reporter for Al Aan Arabic TV, tweeted about the double error at 12:07 PM 9/8, so that it appears to have been her scoop!

She also links former Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill's endorsement of the first NYT error on MSNBC.

Posted by: Hu McCulloch | Sep 9 2016 17:41 utc | 110

likkemore @108: it is a rather remote link to "Saudis funded 20% if HRC campaign". Allegedly, Jordanan news agency quoted an unofficial statement of Saudi Crown Prince, and there are many spots in the chain where something false could be injected. On the level of practicalities, foreigners cannot do it directly, they need American citizens (or residents) etc. Although after Citizens United, it should not be that hard. The bottom line is that it is highly speculative. A more juicy is the quote that sounds authentic: "For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism. We also have to use all our capabilities to counter jihadist propaganda online. This is something that I spend a lot of time on at the State Department"

Sure! USG spend a lot of time trafficking weapons (duly purchased, thanks dear royals) to be used by jihadis recruited by agencies of KSA and other Gulfies. In the same time, some jihadis were black listed, hard to tell why. One think about Islamic radicals that they seem highly peripatetic. They move from place to place and from group to group. Percentage of liberal feminists charmed by the West in general and Israel in particular is small. And the leaders among them may be insane (from our perspective), but, alas, much smarter that folks delegated to be their puppeteers or "gardeners" responsible for removing weeds.

Already during the war of Mujaheedin against the godless Soviets (at the time, viewed as natural allies of theistic USA) there was a pattern on relying on intermediaries who had the personal contacts and the wealth of local abilities, ISI and Saudi intelligence. Surprisingly enough, more obtuse and intolerant groups were favored. Since then, the Gulfies learned more than Americans. And whatever the nature of interactions with the Gulfies, one of the basic facts is that those people live in a feudal system. At least from Polish history, the concept of "bribe" is alien to feudal mentality. The basis of normal interactions is the exchange of generosity for loyalty, or generosity for help etc. Favors do not "lubricate the system", they are THE SYSTEM (in conjunction with intimidation, which requires building alliances through favors). Refusal of favors may be a declaration of hostility.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 9 2016 18:00 utc | 111

@110 Hu McCulloch - your link has a period at the end which brings up a Twitter error page. For those interested in reading Jenan's tweets use this link -

Posted by: h | Sep 9 2016 18:06 utc | 112

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 9, 2016 2:00:47 PM | 111
Thank you

At least from Polish history, the concept of "bribe" is alien to feudal mentality. The basis of normal interactions is the exchange of generosity for loyalty, or generosity for help etc. Favors do not "lubricate the system", they are THE SYSTEM (in conjunction with intimidation, which requires building alliances through favors). Refusal of favors may be a declaration of hostility.

Yes, this is why, like "human rights" before it, "corruption" as a USA-approved pretext must be challenged ... in countries where there are no jobs, where there are no open cattle-calls for opportunity and no pretense of "equal opportunity", bribes are how one gets ahead ... extended families in some places pool their meager resources to pay bribes to get a job for one member or get admission to higher-education for another ... and those "lucky chosen" are forever beholden and responsible to pay-it-back See also the protection fees so that construction materials don't go astray, the fees so that paperwork is not lost and the fees-on-top-of-fees to avoid even more expensive delays ... it's the original "trickle down" along with other service positions to the rich and famous.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 9 2016 18:16 utc | 113

The editors - owners, top brass, of the NYT know perfectly well what is going on. (They now also own the US paper of record in the EU, the ex-Herald Tribune.)

All this shuffling about with corrections is just the norm and the feel of power, or alternatively a daily annoyance, mixed with a show of honesty, probity, etc. etc. To keep the ‘pleb’ public utterly confused. One correction after another, what a joke ..Not that it is deliberately calculated point by point, it is part of the system.

Hilarious wink-wink assumed incompetence. Everybody is sincere, oh so what do you think? - insert some response from an expert who is a nullity and just playing an MSM role, an actor ‘on script’ oh so sincere.

G. Johnson, a minor figure of zero importance, yet, on the ticket, is easy game. Hour by hour things change! Flash news! New pundit opinion! (>> No overall analysis is possible.) The incompetence is *built into* the system, but only a very few ppl at the top know it.

The structure of the MSM corps who order that no independent journalism is tolerated are rife with troubles, infighting, mobbing, etc. Bowing down by minions (toe the line to keep lucrative jobs, ..) and endless top-down orders coupled with group-think, obeisance are needed for control.

Obfuscation, side issues, rubbish, day by day and all night. In a way, the more ‘ignorant’ or ‘confused’ the MSM (here NYT) appear to be, the ‘better’ for them!

As their no. 1 role is to quash any kind of opposition by keeping ppl in an informational dark void, quarreling amongst themselves and following junk news, …The content of what such MSM publish is factually speaking devoid of any substance, relevance, or even interest.

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 9 2016 19:44 utc | 114

dh @ 109

dry up or double down to seal mouths with a grant of immunity? Congress is skating on thin diplomatic ice. They are ignoring Diplomatic treaties. This door swings both ways – invites suits against USA’s extra-judicial (drone) killings and crimes, pages thick.

I expect a pay-back with a KSA announcement – “We will accept EUROS, BP, RMB/YUAN, YEN, CAD for oil payments.”

RIP Petro-dollar.

@ PB 111

A rather remote link that ‘s not so remote.
The rats and roaches always have several escape holes.

So very seamless; it is punching through a wet paper bag between CCFF and State. Take a look at the directors, a revolving door. Meet Director Cheryl Mills, Chief of Staff then back to being to Director. Check out AP and Wapo.

For your quick read do check the $10-25 million donor list:

Intercept: Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

take your time to read this Robin Hood saga for their own pockets. This analyst is not some tinfoil guy. Ask General Electric.


"Clinton Foundation Is Charity Fraud Of Epic Proportions", Analyst Charges In Stunning Takedown

To be sure, Ortel's efforts were to be commended: digging through the foundation's numbers can not have been easy, considering that the nation’s most influential charity watchdog put the Clinton Foundation on its “watch list” of problematic nonprofits in 2015. Furthermore, the Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid. That's because the organization spent the vast bulk of its windfall on "administration, travel, salaries and bonuses", with the fattest payouts going to family friends. [.]

{Ortel’s] stunning summary: "An educated guess, based upon ongoing analysis of the public record begun in February 2015, is that the Clinton Foundation entities are part of a network that has defrauded donors and created illegal private gains of approximately $100 billion in combined magnitude, and possibly more, since 23 October 1997."

~ ~ ~
Got it. Took in 140 million and paid out a paltry $9 million. How are those houses in Haiti coming along?

yes. Now, about that mysterious $35 million paying off HRC’s 2008 campaign debt. I’ll leave it there. I fear nail-guns, bar bells, showers and walks-in-the-park with just one shoe on foot.

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 9 2016 22:39 utc | 115

I expect a pay-back with a KSA announcement – “We will accept EUROS, BP, RMB/YUAN, YEN, CAD for oil payments.”RIP Petro-dollar.

Given that the petrodollar is about the only reason KSA still exists in its present form, thats a highly unlikely scenario.

Any attempt originating with KSA to threaten the Petrodollar would very quickly lead to RIP Al Saud family. Quicker than you could say "chop their heads off"

Posted by: BadMax | Sep 10 2016 0:43 utc | 116

@ BadMax 116 ”highly unlikely scenario”

Suggest you get up to speed and be prepared:
Once upon a time, up until August 15, 1971, the USD was backed by gold and, fwiw, the “full faith and credit of the US government.” Faith in its ability to pay its debts died that August day, 1971. Credit was replaced by debt…counting trillions.

Do the math. Debt vs. Tax revenues. Trillion dollar deficit each year.. debt that will not be repaid..

It is no secret that the USD (petro-dollar) world reserve currency is being sidelined. Countries, Russia and China especially, are trading in their own currencies.
Read up.
Ah, those sanctions (finance, USD and SWIFT as a weapon) against Iran and Russia sure had unintended consequences

Dollar No More, Thank you.

Georgetown Journal of International Law:

“Why The Dollar Should No Longer Be The World Reserve Currency”

Indeed there is a sense of urgency for KSA :

loosing oil market share to Russia


If Saudi Arabia wants to recapture its number one ranking, it needs to accept the renminbi for oil payments instead of just the dollar," Gordon Kwan, the Hong Kong-based head of regional oil and gas research at Nomura Holdings Inc. told Bloomberg back in June 2015.

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 10 2016 2:27 utc | 117

@Gravatomic 95

Deir Ezzor is too easy. Anyone who was following the resupply of ISIS forces in Al Raqqah should know all the location of ALL bridges across the Euphrates and also know where Saker Island is located and who controls it.

It is so sad that no one in the US government has even such basic knowledge of Syria And yes, I didn't have to look it up which is not a big deal.

Posted by: Krollchem | Sep 10 2016 4:01 utc | 118


Oh I'm fully up to speed, sonny boy, don't you worry your likkle head about that. I'd suggest you read up on a likkle history. The Al Saud clan continues to rule in Saudi Arabia solely at the descretion of the US.

Suggesting that the Al Sauds will turn around one day soon and openly say "we're killing the petrodollar", which is what you are suggesting, is like saying that an arm will cut itself off and still expect to function as an arm. It's nonsense.

Ain't gonna happen unless the Al Sauds collectively actually have a suicide wish.

Posted by: BadMax | Sep 10 2016 8:43 utc | 119

@119 BadMax
'unless the Al Sauds collectively actually have a suicide wish.'

And a good chance something of the like will happen to the House of Saud. The wayward Wahabbi godson now wreaking havoc may just come home to roost once it finds it bloodstained hands dry and idle. Some inside the kingdom are aghast at the jihadi monster, others welcome it...

It is the Wahabbi way to cleanse itself of impurity by eating itself from the inside. There will be no ransom on the petrodollar, for then we will witness Royal Saudi skull as being amongst the first to roll. The type of royal that freely shops in downtown Tel Aviv.

All that expensive hardware counts for little as the war visited on Yemen has displayed. Howling weakness. Getting routined by threadbare Houthi tribesman tells us Saudi military men and its paid foreign legion have no heart for that war - the men know it's not the good fight.

Improved stability in Syraq is, I hope, the catalyst that sends the Wahabbi demon spawn Mecca.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Sep 11 2016 18:59 utc | 120

The Daily Mail also doesn't know what Aleppo is:
"Aleppo is a city in Syria that has been besieged by ISIS"

Posted by: Diagoras | Sep 17 2016 18:16 utc | 121

GJ and the NYT both flub again! On Sunday, Johnson expressed relief that no one was hurt in Saturday's attacks in New York and MN, but quickly corrected that no one was killed. The Times pounced on this new gaffe, but in the online summary version of their article shaming him at first confounded St. Cloud, where the MN attack actually occurred, with Minneapolis. See

If Johnson's errors disqualify him from running for president, then the Times' errors equally disqualify them from reporting on questions of geography.

The print version of the article should be in today's (9/20) paper.

Posted by: Hu McCulloch | Sep 20 2016 10:54 utc | 122

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