Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Civility Watchdog: June 21, 2016, Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren, and Josh Earnest

QUESTIONER [unidentified]: And on the topic of tweets today, there was a tweet last night from Senator Warren saying that she agreed with Chris Murphy that Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS. Do you think that goes too far?

EARNEST: Well, I didn’t see the tweet, but what I could say about this is simply the situation that is created by Republicans blocking the Feinstein amendment is simply that individuals who are suspected of having ties to terrorism are able to buy a gun with impunity, because Republicans are protecting that loophole at the simple request of the NRA. Those are the facts of the situation. And again, I’ll leave it to Republicans to try to defend that position. I don’t think it's a position that many Americans are going to have sympathy for.

QUESTIONER [unidentified]: Are you saying that you agree with that sentiment that it's essentially deciding to sell weapons to ISIS?

EARNEST: I think what is -- again, I'll let Senator Murphy and Senator Warren describe the situation as they see it. As we see it, it is without question possible for suspected terrorists to buy guns because Republicans are protecting their ability to do so.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, June 21, 2016, remarking on comments made by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Murphy and Warren had said that the GOP, by blocking certain Senate legislation on gun control, had "decided to sell weapons to ISIS".

Comment: First, Murphy and Warren's remark amounts to demonizing. There are concerns about whether people should lose their right to travel by plane or own a gun merely because they have been placed on a terror watch list without having been convicted of any actual acts of terrorism. They didn't simply decide to sell guns to The Islamic State. Second, Earnest is evading the question about whether the White House approves of Murphy and Warren's remark is acceptable. He says that it's their job to defend their remarks, which is true, but it often falls on us to evaluate the remarks of others. The White House has routinely criticized remarks made by Donald Trump; they seldom say, "No comment, we'll leave it to Mr. Trump to defend his own remarks."

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