On this edition of Being Libertarian Presents, Charles Peralo interviewed prominent libertarian figure and pundit John Stossel, who hosts the eponymous weekly news show on Fox Business. Stossel previously hosted the first ever nationally televised Libertarian Party debate this year between Gary Johnson, Austin Petersen, and John McAfee, and is slated to host the Libertarian Town Hall with presidential nominee Gary Johnson and vice presidential nominee Bill Weld on Friday, August 26th at 9 pm ET on his own show.
In regards to the top three aforementioned Libertarian candidates that were in contention for the nomination, Stossel made it clear that he believed that McAfee “would scare a lot of people” outside of the the Libertarian electorate, and noted that he felt “Austin [Petersen] is young, [and] he’s better than Johnson in many ways,” while making it obvious that he believes Johnson would be the best candidate to gain outreach and bring others into the party.
The praise for Johnson was short-lived in this interview, however, as the tone quickly turned toward criticism of Johnson’s style – most notably his speaking – saying he shouldn’t say “I think” so much, and “should speak in clear sentences with a beginning, middle, and an end.” Stossel also extended this criticism to how he thinks Johnson will perform if included in the debates, saying he’s “just not going to do well in the debates, he lacks command.” In saying so, Stossel also made the point that Bill Weld is a far better speaker than Johnson in his opinion, and though he may not be a “perfect libertarian, he’s very good,” and that “Weld makes Johnson better” in general.
Regarding the principles libertarians stand for, and specifically how Johnson and the party deal with those issues, Stossel said that Johnson isn’t perfect, but that libertarians often “want perfect” in their candidates, but that we should really be pushing the values of liberty more than anything else. The infamous “bake the cake” issue arose, and Stossel relayed that his stance on it is that it is a “nitpicky, critical thing,” but also an “interesting intellectual argument.” He also made sure to reiterate that the NAP and general views of liberty and freedom of association are values we as libertarians should vehemently fight for, asserting that “if I don’t want to serve you because you smell bad it should be my right, if I don’t want to serve you because you’re black it should be my right. The market will take care of that.”
In discussing the main point of the interview – the upcoming town hall – Stossel said that he’s “not doing it for the libertarians,” but more to appeal to a general television audience and spread appeal. Not only that, but noted in closing that he hopes the town hall audience “gets is that it is a choice between a bully who is irrational often and a career politician who wants to spend us broke and micromanage every inch of life, and two 2-term governors who were re-elected as Republicans in Democratic states […] competent professionals whose ideas make sense.”