Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of Fox and Friends, entered into a heated debate with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday, over President Obama's reaction to last week's Paris attacks. She summed up the president's attitude as "aloof, apathetic ... and quite cavalier," and Earnest wasn't having it.
Speaking from Manila, Earnest was also asked to explain Secretary of State John Kerry's comment about seeing a "rationale" for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but not last week's Paris massacre. Elissabeth Hasselbeck also insisted he explain President Obama's remark that the latest Paris attacks were a "setback" in the ongoing worldwide battle against extremists.
The White House's top spokesman had an intense argument with a Fox News host over the Paris attack https://t.co/haC38EVgT2
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) November 18, 2015
"Would you go back and ask for that language to be changed at this point, to reflect some sort of solidarity and intentional aggression against ISIS? I mean, to call this understandable as it relates to Charlie Hebdo and call this a 'setback' seems awful, at least to the American people," Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked Josh Earnest.
The Press Secretary's reply was that people must focus on what President Obama does and not so much on the language he used. He told Hasselbeck that American people need to look at a "transcript of Obama's remarks" in which he describes last week's massacre as "sickening" and expresses his sorrow.
"I would encourage you to spend just as much time focusing on the president's actions as you do his words," he said.
"Josh, I will stop you there," Elisabeth Hasselbeck interrupted, much to the chagrin of Josh Earnest.
"Let me finish my answer," he responded. "If you have me on your show to talk about a serious issue, give me an opportunity to answer the question."
"I would love for you to answer it," she fired back.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 19, 2015
"Elisabeth, if you want to have me on the show to talk about something serious as national security, ask me a question and I’ll answer it," the press secretary reiterated.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck continued arguing and talking over her guest.
"Josh, we’ve played fair before," she said, cutting off Earnest as he began to respond. "I would let you know the president's words matter to me, not just to the American people but to those around the globe who are very concerned now. Our president's words matter. He called it a 'setback' why? Just a 'setback' seems cavalier. Go ahead and answer the question."
"Elisabeth, if you would consider the president's remarks, you will note that he called the attacks 'sickening' and expressed profound sorrow of what precisely had occurred. But I would encourage you to spend time to focus on the president's actions," Earnest said, trying his best to outline the steps the president has made since the attacks.
"Hours after this terrible terrorist attack took place, the president was on the phone with the president of France to offer any support that they needed in conducting the investigation, carrying out any responses they choose to carry out," he went on. "Hours later, the president convened a meeting of his national security team. The president invited the attorney general, secretary of defense and other leaders to discuss exactly what the U.S. response should be. The first question that the president asked in that meeting was to make sure, to verify that all of the necessary steps were being taken inside the United States to ensure the safety and security of the American people and the U.S. homeland. After that, there was an extended conversation about the intelligence and about what sort of military steps we could take to ramp up our efforts inside of Syria and make sure we can support our French allies if they chose to ramp up their efforts inside of Syria. That’s what they've done and we've supported them as they've done that."
Did you catch Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday? What's your take on her insistence that President Obama was "aloof, apathetic ... and quite cavalier," as opposed to Earnest's urging that Americans regard the president's actions over his words?