Why The Chicago Tribune Endorsed Gary Johnson For President

Where Do The Third Party Candidates Stand, And Who Are Their Supporters?
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (R), and his running mate Bill Weld (L), talk to the press before a rally on Aug. 6, 2015 in Salt Lake City. (George Frey/Getty Images)
Where Do The Third Party Candidates Stand, And Who Are Their Supporters?
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (R), and his running mate Bill Weld (L), talk to the press before a rally on Aug. 6, 2015 in Salt Lake City. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Why The Chicago Tribune Endorsed Gary Johnson For President

The Chicago Tribune came out in support of Libertarian Gary Johnson for President of the United States Friday, eliciting a “What the heck?” from some readers and causing a firestorm on social media.

Have a thoughtful response to our endorsement of Gary Johnson? Email ctc-tribletter@chicagotribune.com. Please include name and address.

— Tribune Edit Board (@Trib_ed_board) September 30, 2016

Shortly after the endorsement went live, Morning Shift caught up with John McCormick of the Tribune editorial board to discuss why he and his team think Gary Johnson is more qualified to lead the nation than Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

“Neither Secretary Clinton nor Mr. Trump has any government executive experience,” McCormick said. “Gary Johnson and Bill Weld each served two terms. They were very successful moderate Republican governors in Democratic states, New Mexico and Massachusetts.”

The Tribune endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. This year, the paper announced it would never endorse Trump, leaving the door open to a possible endorsement for Clinton.

Instead, in supporting Johnson, the editorial board criticized Clinton’s plans for the economy and government spending and questioned her character and methods.

“Time upon time, Clinton’s behavior affirms the perception that she’s a corner-cutter whose ambitions drive her decisions,” it wrote.

Johnson was not exactly a footnote in his own endorsement, but he wasn’t the star either. There were 14 mentions of Clinton, 10 mentions of Trump, and 10 of Johnson.

The 1,681-word piece took shots at President Bill Clinton as well (3 mentions). The harshest barbs, however, were saved for Trump.

Trump has gone out of his way to anger world leaders, giant swaths of the American public, and people of other lands who aspire to immigrate here legally. He has neither the character nor the prudent disposition for the job,” the editorial read.

The Johnson endorsement appeared on the Tribune’s website at 8 a.m. Central. It did not appear in the print newspaper that showed up on doorsteps a few hours earlier.

After the conversation with John McCormick of the Tribune editorial board, the Morning Shift also spoke with political scientist John Jackson of Southern Illinois University about how much weight newspaper endorsements have these days.