The New York Times failed to answer the same question as Johnson, not once but twice!
One of the most publicized political mishaps of the last week was Gary Johnson’s failure to answer a question about Syria in an MSNBC interview. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate and former governor of New Mexico, was polling at 10% before the gaffe. Johnson failed to respond to the question: “What is Aleppo?” a question referencing the embattled Syrian city that was once Syria’s largest.
Johnson expressed his frustration with himself and the mainstream media response to the blunder was fierce, but not without some awkwardness of its own. The New York Times wrote an article lampooning Johnson for drawing a blank on Aleppo. Alan Rappeport, who wrote the article, said that Johnson “revealed a surprising lack of foreign policy knowledge” by not being able to answer the question. He went on to question whether Johnson’s failure to answer “a basic question” could derail his hopes of reaching 15% in the polls, a number which would allow him to be included in the upcoming presidential debates. Rappeport also made the claim that Johnson’s comments were “widely mocked on social media” and mentioned that several critics argued that “Johnson had excluded himself from the presidency.”
However, Rappeport’s article made its own mistakes in answering “What is Aleppo?” In what will be sure to amuse critics of the mainstream media, the original version of the article misidentified Aleppo as the de facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS), when it is actually Raqqa. In an updated version intended to correct the original mistake, The New York Times then again misidentified Aleppo as the capital of Syria when it is actually Damascus. Eventually, after two attempts, Aleppo was identified as a “war-torn Syrian city” in the current version of the article. Aleppo was once home to 2 million people before the Syrian Civil War began in 2012. Since then, it has been largely in and out of ISIS hands over the course of the 5-year civil war which have made it one of the most damaged cities in the conflict.
This isn’t the first time The New York Times has lost credibility with readers. An important example was the collusion between New York Times reporter Mark Mazetti and CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf in 2012. Mazetti, who was (and still is) the national security and intelligence reporter for the New York Times, worked with Harf to plan for the fallout from reporting by another writer at his own newspaper. In a series of emails, he assured Harf that the CIA had “nothing to worry about” and also asked her to delete his emails after reading them.
According to the Guardian, the emails showcased the corruption that pervades establishment journalism. Loss of faith in establishment or mainstream journalism has been on the rise in the US, especially in recent years. Distrust in the media first hit a record high in 2012 and then again in 2015. According the polls, 6 out of every 10 Americans do not trust the mainstream media to report on issues fairly and accurately. Maybe even more Americans will join them after The New York Times’ latest error.
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