Monday on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest was confronted by co-host Martha MacCallum about his statements earlier today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the fight against Islamic terrorism is a “war of narratives.”
Partial transcript as follows:
MACCALLUM: You mentioned earlier today you believe it’s a narrative battle we’re fighting. I think that for people who have shrapnel in their shoulders this morning—they might have a hard time accepting that—that it is a narrative battle we’re fighting against ISIS. Explain what you meant by that?
EARNEST: I meant very specifically, Martha, we’re taking fight to them on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The president has organized an international coalition—5,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria last couple years. 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. That is bankrupt ideology they are trying to wrap in the cloak of Islam. And to suggest that somehow we should treat Muslims differently or suspect them as terrorists just because of their religion…
MACCALLUM: Nobody is talking about that.
EARNEST: We certainly have heard that inflammatory rhetoric from Republicans.
MACCALLUM: We’re not talking about that here.
EARNEST: This is the context that I was asked the question about the ISIL narrative earlier today. it is important we don’t play into the narrative. Too many Republicans are willing to do…
MACCALLUM: This is the ISIS narrative. This is what they said in their recent publication. ISIS states that disbelievers should be slain wherever they may be. This includes the businessman riding to work in the taxi cab, young adults in engaged in sports activities in park, the old men waiting in line and buying a sandwich, striking terror into the hearts of all non-believers, Muslims and non-Muslims is the Muslim duty. So what people have a hard time with you know—you have to take them at their word they mean to do what they say because we see it happening here in the United States. So, it feels sometimes like the White House doesn’t like to make the connection between those two things. Is that wrong?
EARNEST: Well I think we’ve been quite clear. The president has demonstrated, you don’t have to take my word for it. The president demonstrated seriousness, which he has taken this fight to ISIL.