Yes, Gary Johnson should have known what Aleppo was and how important it is. You and I and any number of people we know may not know what Aleppo is. That's fine - we're not running for president. But Gary Johnson is. It is unacceptable that a candidate - any candidate - running for leader of the free world be so uninformed on such a vital issue.
That being said, Johnson has a point. In an interview on Imus in the Morning with Connell McShane, Johnson owned his mistake and then said this:
There is an incredible double standard going on here, and I'm okay with that. It's the way that it should be. Has Donald Trump not said 150 things that should disqualify? If this is one thing, hasn't he said 150 of those things?
Johnson is 100 percent correct. There is an incredible double standard going on in this election. Hillary Clinton has certainly felt it and now it's Johnson's turn in the barrel. The simple truth is that Donald Trump has so thoroughly lowered the bar that he now routinely gets away with the most egregious and outlandish statements while others are held to an impossible standard.
Now I don't think that Johnson's flub will prove all that costly to him. Face it, most of the people who support him and Jill Stein are so disillusioned by the current political system that if a Pet Rock decided to run as a third-party candidate they'd get 2 percent of the vote right off the top.
But it's becoming painfully obvious that there are two sets of rules: one for Donald Trump and one for Hillary Clinton. And my fear is that with the press and the main-stream media deciding to sit this election out and ignore their responsibilities as journalists, Trump will be able to say virtually anything he wants unfettered by the constraints of reality.
The performance of Matt Lauer in Wednesday's forum was, sadly, not an outlier. It was yet another painful reminder of the degree to which this once venerable industry has declined. Can you picture Mike Wallace allowing a political candidate to literally lie to him and millions of people who were watching him? Not for a moment. In fact, Wallace would often make the lives of the people he interviewed a living hell if they even attempted to do that. If you don't believe me, go ahead and Google some of his 60 Minutes' segments. What Wallace did was not out of the ordinary: in his day, it was considered standard operating procedure.
Those days are sadly gone. Witness what Wallace's son, Chris, had to say regarding his role as the moderator of the third presidential debate. "I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that."
You hear that? Chris Wallace, son of legendary TV journalist Mike Wallace, thinks that the truth is whatever the candidate with the loudest voice says it is. So Trump can basically spew whatever nonsense he wants to for two hours and Clinton will be forced into not only fact checking his bullshit, but, in what little time remains, present her vision for the country. It's like a batter walking to the plate with two strikes against him.
This is the gift the Trump campaign has been looking for: a national stage where their candidate can peddle his snake oil to an unsuspecting country without being challenged by the very agency tasked with defending the truth, and at the same time nullifying the strengths of his opponent. This is how Trump beat his opponents and won the Republican nomination: by dragging them down to his level. If you thought he got away with murder during those debates, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Hillary will have her hands full over the next several weeks. Not only will she have to best Trump in a one on one debate forum - that is assuming Johnson doesn't reach the requisite 15 percent threshold in the polls and earn a spot on the stage - she will have to do it while the Fourth Estate stands idly by and calls out for a pizza.
Hey, Chris, don't forget the anchovies.