The Washingon press corps should give it to Josh Earnest this rough.
The White House press secretary must have thought he ran a gauntlet when he faced questions from an entire panel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday.
At issue was President Obama’s over-the-top comparison of Republican lawmakers to Iranians who shout “Death to America” in a speech Wednesday at American University in Washington.
“Some say the president might have been a tad bit condescending and maybe not the best approach to selling the nuclear deal in that speech,” co-host Mika Brzezinski said, leading off the questioning.
“Some might say that. What do you think?” she asked.
“My guess is those are the same people trying to kill the deal. I would concede the president did not pull any punches yesterday,” Earnest replied.
“Yeah, I would say if you compare Republicans who fought in the war with Iranian hard-liners, that would be defined as not pulling any punches,” host Joe Scarborough threw in. “Was that necessary?”
“I think what he did is made the point they are making the same argument, that it’s hard-liners in Iran suggesting they should kill the deal,” Earnest said. “There’s no doubt they’re making this same argument.
MSNBC’s Chris Jansing didn’t think it was so black-and-white. “He said these are folks who are chanting ‘Death to America.’ He added that little phrase in there.”
Earnest objected, saying “Well that, was a different part of it…”
“No, it wasn’t! I’ll read you the quote,” she shot back.
“ ‘It’s those hard-liners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal, they’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.’ It was all one sentence.”
Proven wrong, Earnest wiggled by saying Obama was merely trying to say that Republicans and Iranian hardliners shared the same position — an objection to the nuke deal. But Scarborough shot that absurdity right down. And he combined one of America’s most notorious mass murderers, Charles Manson, with history’s most popular band, The Beatles, to do it.
“Charles Manson loved ‘the White Album.’ I loved ‘the White Album,’” he said. “Is the president going to compare me to Charles Manson?”
At a point later in the segment, Scarborough distilled the president’s reasoning down to its essentials.
“The president said yesterday to American University, people who are against this deal are either ignorant or untruthful,” he said.
“There are people of good faith who can disagree with the deal. Why does the president see this in such stark terms and why are those who oppose the deal either ignorant or untruthful?”
The White House press corps should be this tough.
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