“The Chicago Tribune is clearly unconcerned that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson didn't know what Aleppo is, couldn't identify a single foreign leader for Chris Matthews and was clueless about the identity of Harriet Tubman,” James Warren stated in an article posted on Friday.
Warren's remarks on the newspaper's endorsement of Johnson for president are particularly interesting since he previously served as the Washington Bureau chief for the newspaper before becoming the chief media writer for the Poynter.org website.
He referred to the choice as “either journalism courage and candor or, perhaps, its own Aleppo moment” since the “longtime bastion of Midwest conservatism rebuked both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and went with Johnson as the most qualified to be president.”
In an article entitled “A Principled Option for U.S. President,” the editors said:
We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president -- regardless of his or her prospects for victory -- than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates.
With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend.
"What we're recommending will appeal less to people who think tactically than to conscientious Americans so infuriated that they want to send a message about the failings of the major parties and their candidates,” the editorial board noted.
"'Most people are Libertarian,' Johnson told the Tribune Editorial Board when he and [Vice President candidate William] Weld met with us in July. 'It's just that they don't know it.'"
“Most people probably do know, however, the long-woeful but now revived Cubs have a better chance of winning the World Series than its largest hometown paper of endorsing any Democrat,” Warren continued.
“Its backing of a Democrat, hometown candidate Barack Obama in 2008, was a first for the paper,” he stated. “It endorsed him again, for re-election, in 2012. But he was the local guy and the support was an unavoidable anomaly.”
The newspaper “now reverts back to ideological form by heading rightward and giving Johnson's flagging campaign a mini-boost in an age when newspaper endorsements' have minimal impact,” the chief media editor asserted.
“As for Trump,” Warren stated, “it says he's unfit for the job.”
The GOP candidate “has ridden to the White House gate on the backs of Americans who believe they've been robbed of opportunity and respect,” they opined. “But inaugurating a bombastic and self-aggrandizing President Donald Trump isn't the cure.”
“When it come to Clinton, its rationale is somewhat circuitous,” Warren noted.
“It openly concedes that, compared to Trump, she is 'undeniably capable of leading the United States,'” he stated. The editors also noted:
Electing her the first woman president would break a barrier that has no reason to be.
Any American who lists their respective shortcomings should be more apoplectic about the litany under his name than the one under hers. He couldn't do this job. She could.
“So what's the problem?” Warren asked. “Here, the paper's generally bedrock aversion to big government and taxation is a primary impediment.”
“It cites 'her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust' for its refusal to back her,” he continued. “Also troubling, they write, is Clinton’s history of dishonesty, both about her emails and the 2012 Benghazi attack.”
“Rather than run as a practical-minded Democrat as in 2008, this year she lurched left, pandering to match the Free Stuff agenda of then-rival Bernie Sanders,” the editors asserted.
“She has positioned herself so far to the left on spending that her presidency would extend the political schism that has divided America for some 24 years,” they added.
“It's clearly enthused about Johnson, however,” Warren added.
“Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments,” the editors wrote.
“They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles, but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible,” they stated.
"Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles -- and can be proud of that vote,” the editors stated.
Alex Griswold of the Mediaite.com website called the move “a surprise choice” even though “the Tribune has a history of endorsing both parties,” but “the last time they endorsed a third party candidate was over a hundred years ago, when they backed former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt‘s run under the Bull Moose banner.”
Will this endorsement have a serious impact on the current presidential election? Only time -- and there's not much of it left -- will tell.