White House press secretary Josh Earnest may be used to networks rolling over for him as espouses the Obama administration’s viewpoints, which might explain why he seldom appears on Fox News Channel.
Earnest met firm resistance Monday from Fox News host Martha MacCallum, who took him to task for a remarkable comment he made earlier in the day that the fight against ISIS was “in some ways […] just a war of narratives.”
She reminded President Barack Obama’s spokesman of the human casualties in that war.
“You mentioned earlier today you believe it’s a ‘narrative battle’ that we’re fighting,” MacCallum said. “I think that for people who have shrapnel in their shoulders this morning, they might have a hard time accepting that it is a narrative battle that we’re fighting against ISIS. Explain what you meant by that.”
Earnest replied by talking about military actions taken, rather than his “war of narratives.”
“I meant very specifically that we’re taking fight to them on the ground in Iraq and Syria,” he replied. “And the president has organized an international coalition, more 5000 airstrikes that we’ve taken against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria over the last couple years.”
Earnest then echoed a consistent theme from the administration — defending Islam — while explaining the narrative he spoke of.
“What is important in the context of political debate is to remember ISIL is trying to assert a narrative, that they represent the religion of Islam in a war against the West and in a war against the United States. That is mythology, that is falsehood, that is not true.”
He went on to suggest that Americans should not “treat Muslims differently or suspect them as terrorists just because of their religion.”
MacCallum reminded him that no one is talking about doing that, but Earnest seized on the opportunity to attack Republicans anyway.
“We certainly have heard that kind of inflammatory rhetoric from Republicans,” he said. “This is the context in which I was asked the question about the ISIL narrative earlier today. It is important we don’t play into the narrative, and that is what too many Republicans are willing to do that.”
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