Fox News personalities attacked President Obama for not using the words “Islamic” or “Islam” to describe terrorism in his 2015 State of the Union address, but they ignored that the official GOP response, delivered by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), didn't mention Islam either.
Obama Vows To Continue Fight Against Terrorism During His Sixth State Of The Union Address
Obama's Address Mentions Fight Against ISIS And “Violent Extremism.” In his January 20 State of the Union address, Obama said that the United States will continue its fight against “terrorists” and that it will assist those who combat the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS, and “the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.” [Medium.com, 1/20/15]
Right-Wing Media Slam Obama For Not Using Word “Islam” To Describe Terrorism
Fox Host Kimberly Guilfoyle: “Why No Mention” Of "'Islamist' Terror"? On Twitter, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle asked why there was “no mention of word 'Islamist' terror” in the State of the Union:
Obama: Stand united with people around the world who've been targeted by terrorists... why no mention of word 'Islamist' terror #FoxNewsCHAT
-- Kimberly Guilfoyle (@kimguilfoyle) January 21, 2015
Fox Host Martha MacCallum: Obama “Steered Clear” Of Saying “Islamic Extremism” In Speech. On the January 21 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum said that “while the president did talk about ISIS, he steered clear of calling the global threat 'Islamic extremism' when describing these terrorists.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 1/21/15]
Fox Contributor KT McFarland: “He Just Can't Bring Himself To Say Islamist And Violent In The Same Sentence!” Fox contributor KT McFarland lamented that Obama “just can't bring himself to say Islamist and violent in the same sentence” :
-- KT McFarland (@ktmcfarland) January 21, 2015
Fox Host Elisabeth Hasselbeck: “Why Won't The President Say Islamic Extremism Or Radical Islam?” During a Fox & Friends interview with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked, “why won't the president say 'Islamic extremism' or 'radical Islam'?” After Jarrett explained that “many of the countries who are helping us fight terrorism are Islamic-majority countries,” Hasselbeck pressed: “Does the president find it more offensive that radical Islam exists, or the term 'radical Islam'? Which is more offensive to the president?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/21/15]
Fox's Eric Bolling To Obama: “Say It With Me: I-S-L-A-M-I-C Terrorism.” On Twitter, Fox host Eric Bolling implored Obama to “say it with me: I-S-L-A-M-I-C terrorism” :
-- ericbolling (@ericbolling) January 21, 2015
Ernst Didn't Use “Islamic” In The GOP's Official SOTU Response
Ernst Did Not Use Any Variation Of “Islam” To Describe Terrorism In SOTU Response. Ernst delivered the official GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address and did not use any variation of the word “Islam” to describe terrorism and violent extremism. Much like Obama, she denounced “terrorism” and the “forces of violence and oppression.” [National Journal, 1/20/15]
Fox Figures Heap Praise On Ernst Without Questioning Her Language
Fox & Friends: Ernst Painted “A Perfect Picture” In Her “Unbelievably Composed” Rebuttal. The hosts of Fox & Friends lavished praise on Ernst's rebuttal, calling her the “perfect picture” of a hard-working American and saying her speech was delivered “perfectly” :
HASSELBECK: She, I thought, gave a perfect picture of an American out there who didn't always have it easy. She talked about walking on the bus with bags on her feet.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): That's one of the hardest things you can do, come back in after the president. We saw Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal struggle to a degree. But she could not write a speech in response to the president's. She wrote her own speech on her own, and she delivered it perfectly. She seemed happy to be there, unbelievably composed. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/21/15]
George Will: Watching Ernst's Speech Was "A Refreshing Experience." Directly following Ernst's GOP rebuttal, a Fox News panel agreed the Republican senator had delivered a strong performance. Fox contributor Steve Hayes said Ernst “did a good job” of contrasting Republican plans with Obama's and that she “point[ed] the country in a different direction.” Conservative columnist George Will went further, saying that Ernst was “effective” and that her speech was “a refreshing experience.” [Fox News, State of the Union 2015, 1/20/15]
Fox News Regular Brad Blakeman: Ernst Was "Amazing. She's A Rising Star ... Her Substance Was Terrific." On the January 21 edition of America's Newsroom, regular Fox News guest Brad Blakeman overflowed with praise for “rising star” Ernst, who he said did a “remarkable job.” Blakeman also commended the freshman senator for opting to pen her own speech about her own priorities rather than a traditional rebuttal, saying, “Her substance was terrific” :
BLAKEMAN: Look, she's amazing. She's a rising star, certainly, within the Republican Party. She's the first woman senator elected from her state to the U.S. Senate. She's a combat veteran. She's still serving our nation's military while serving our nation as a U.S. senator. Her substance was terrific. I think she did a remarkable job, not only in delivery, but in getting away from responding to the president and putting forward our Republican agenda. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 1/21/15]
Distinguishing Islam From Terrorism Is Part Of A “Longstanding U.S. Policy” That Began Under George W. Bush
Bloomberg View: Obama Administration's Omission Of “Radical Islam” Follows Bush Lead. Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake noted that comments like those made by Obama and Ernst conform with “a longstanding U.S. policy, not only for Obama but also his predecessor, George W. Bush.” Lake explained that Obama administration didn't use “radical Islam” to describe the ideology of the terrorists who attacked the office of the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo because the United States' war against terror “requires at least the tacit support of many radical Muslims” :
There is a reason for this: The long war against radical Islamic terrorists requires at least the tacit support of many radical Muslims.
It sounds strange. But as Emile Nakhleh, who was one of the CIA's top experts on political Islam between 1993 and 2006, told me, there was a recognition following the 9/11 attacks inside the Bush administration that many supporters of the Wahhabi strain of Islam favored by al-Qaeda and its allies were not plotting attacks on the West. In some cases, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the purveyors of Wahhabism were longstanding American allies. “There was the two-ton elephant in the room, and that is Saudi Arabia,” Nakhleh said.
So Bush for the most part opted instead to talk about the enemy as “evildoers” or “extremists,” even though on some occasions he went off message. It's why Bush's second secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, condemned as “offensive” the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in 2006 after they sparked riots across the Muslim world. [Bloomberg View, 1/19/15]
Bush: “The Face Of Terror Is Not The True Faith Of Islam.” During remarks given at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., in the days following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush made clear that attacks committed by Al Qaeda were not representative of the Islamic faith:
BUSH: The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace, they represent evil and war. [White House Archives, 9/17/01]
Bush: “The Terrorists Are Traitors To Their Own Faith, Trying, In Effect, To Hijack Islam Itself.” In an address to a joint session of Congress following the September 11 attacks, Bush again made clear that the terrorists who attacked the United States “practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.” Bush spoke on the difference between extremist terrorists and Muslims:
BUSH: I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. [White House Archives, 9/20/01]
Bush: “We Do Not Fight Islam, We Fight Against Evil.” In November 2001 remarks at the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism, Bush said, “The head of the 22 nation Arab League rejected the claims of the terrorist leader and said he -- Osama bin Laden -- 'doesn't speak in the name of Arabs and Muslims.' ” Bush went on to say, “All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.” [White House Archives, 11/6/01]