Accuracy in Media

josh earnest white house

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while he won’t criticize anyone who uses the term “radical Islam” to describe the massacre in Paris last week at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the White House won’t use that terminology because it’s not “accurate.”

Earnest was asked about this by NPR’s Mara Liasson:

Liasson: Other allies have described the ideology that you call a warped view of Islam by calling it radical Islam. They’re not saying we’re at war with Islam. They agree with you totally and every word you’ve just said. But they are calling the ideology—the “warped view” that these people adhere to—by a name. And it seems like the White House has gone to great lengths to avoid ever calling it anything other than a warped view and I’m wondering if there is a reason for that?

Earnest: The first is accuracy. We want to describe exactly what happened. These are individuals who carried out an act of terrorism and they later tried to justify that act of terrorism by invoking the religion of Islam and their own deviant view of it.

The second is, this was an act that was roundly condemned by Muslim leaders. Again, I am describing to you the reasons why we have not chosen to use that label, because it does not seem to accurately describe what happened.

We also don’t want to be in a situation where we are legitimizing what we consider to be a completely illegitimate justification for this violence, this act of terrorism.

Again, I’m not going to criticize anybody who uses that label. I’m talking about the way we are talking about this. And what we are trying to be as specific and accurate as possible in describing what exactly occurred.

The only “warped view” is that of the White House, which can’t bring itself to call the terrorists what they really are, either because they’re afraid of offending Muslims, or because they don’t want to face the consequences of what being honest about it would entail.

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