Things got heated between White House press secretary Josh Earnest and “Fox & Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck during a Wednesday-morning interview.
Hasselbeck grilled Earnest on an statement made by his boss, President Barack Obama, who referred to last week’s terror attack in Paris, France, as a “setback.”
Hasselbeck called that an “awful” word to use given the gravity of the situation.
“Following this initial attack in Paris where 129 people were brutally killed, the president of the United States referred to this as something that was a ‘setback,'” she said.
“Do you understand at this point how the verbiage needs to change a bit?” she asked, grouping in another controversial statement made by Secretary of State John Kerry. “Because everyone in this world right now sees them as aloof, apathetic, and quite cavalier about these lives being lost at the hand of ISIS.”
But Earnest insisted that she was taking Obama’s comment out of context.
“Go look at a transcript of the president’s remarks — where he described the situation as ‘sickening,’ where expressed his profound sorrow at what exactly had occurred,” Earnest said. “And I think what I would encourage you to do is to spend just as much focusing time on the president’s actions as you do his words.”
Hasselbeck interjected: “His words matter, Josh!”
They proceeded to talk over one another. Their discussion was not helped by the fact that Earnest was giving the interview from the Philippines, which resulted in delayed communication between the two.
“I have to stop you there. Josh I will stop you there,” Hasselbeck continued as Earnest attempted to finish his statement.
“Let me finish my answer,” Earnest said. “If you want to have me on your show, Elisabeth. Elisabeth, if you want to have me on your show to talk about a serious issue, then give me an opportunity to answer the question. And I will answer the question.”
“Go ahead,” Hasselbeck offered.
“If you want to have me on the show to talk about something as serious as our national security, you can ask me a question and I will answer it. When the president — ” Earnest said, as he was cut off again.
“Josh, we’ve played fair before. I’m letting you know that our president’s words matter,” Hasselbeck said. “He called this a ‘setback.’ Why? Just a ‘setback’ seems cavalier. But go ahead and answer the question.”
Earnest repeated his argument that she was taking Obama’s quote out of context.
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