Conservative media deceptively took President Obama's comments following the November 13 terror attacks in Paris out of context to argue that he is being “apathetic” and “cavalier” about the threat of ISIS. However, in his full remarks, Obama referred to the acts as “heinous” and “a terrible and sickening setback” in the fight against ISIS.
Obama Called The Attacks “Heinous” And “A Terrible And Sickening Setback”
President Obama: “The Heinous Attacks That Took Place In Paris ... Were A Terrible And Sickening Setback.” In a November 16 address to a summit of the G20 in Antalya, Turkey, President Obama discussed the November 13 terror attacks in Paris and labeled them as “terrible events” and “heinous attacks” that are “a terrible and sickening setback” in the fight against ISIS:
Of course, much of our attention has focused on the heinous attacks that took place in Paris. Across the world, in the United States, American flags are at half-staff in solidarity with our French allies. We're working closely with our French partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects.
France is already a strong counterterrorism partner, and today we're announcing a new agreement. We're streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France. This will allow our personnel to pass threat information, including on ISIL, to our French partners even more quickly and more often -- because we need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens.
There will be setbacks and there will be successes. The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can't lose sight that there has been progress being made. [The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 11/16/15]
Right-Wing Media Claim Obama Referred To The Attacks In Paris As Simply A “Setback”
Fox's Hasselbeck: “To Call [The Terror Attacks In Paris] Just A Setback Seems Awful.” In a November 18 interview with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that, in his initial remarks, President Obama referred to the terrorist attacks in Paris as “just a setback” and stated that “the verbiage needs to change.” She went on to argue that his alleged comments make the United States seem “aloof, apathetic, and quite cavalier” about the attacks:
ELISABETH HASSELBECK (HOST): 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 quote, “setback” ... Do you understand at this point how the verbiage needs to change a bit? Because everyone in this world right now sees [Obama] as aloof, apathetic, and quite cavalier about these lives being lost at the hand of ISIS. Would you go back and ask for that language to be changed at this point to reflect some sort of solidarity and intentional aggression against ISIS? ... To call this just a setback seems awful. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/18/15]
Fox's Gretchen Carlson: “It Was Amazing” To Hear Obama Define The Terror Attacks In France As “A Setback.” On the November 16 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, correspondent Bill Hemmer reported on Obama's remarks at the G20 summit, only saying that the president called the terror attacks “a setback” in the fight against ISIS. Host Gretchen Carlson responded that “it was amazing” to hear the attacks “being defined that way”:
BILL HEMMER: [Obama] called what happened here in France a setback, but it -- I think it's obvious to everyone who was watching, he believes in his strategy. And there is going to be terrorist episodes as horrendous as France experienced on Friday night with 129 dead and 350 injured, 90 of whom are still in critical condition. And that seems to be something that could likely happen again in another foreign capital, or maybe in the United States. And by all accounts, the commander-in-chief says,“we're doing what we're doing; we're going to constrict their geography and over time we will defeat them.”
GRETCHEN CARLSON (HOST): Yeah.
HEMMER: And that was the card he played again today, Gretchen.
CARLSON: Well it was amazing, I think to many people, to hear 129 people dying being a setback, being defined that way. [Fox News, The Real Story, 11/16/15]
Conservative Commentator Mark Steyn: Obama Called The Attacks In Paris “A Setback.” On the November 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity, guest Mark Steyn asserted that “the worst [Obama] could say about” the terror attacks in Paris was that “it's a setback.” He argued that, compared to French President Francois Hollande or Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama's response was not strong enough:
MARK STEYN: [I]t's a horrible attack, but in a sense it plays to the Trump view of the world, that these are serious times and they demand a serious response.
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): And a strong response.
STEYN: And a strong response. And what everyone feels about Mr. Hollande or Putin, if you compare it to Obama in Turkey, the worst he could say about this, that people who go to a concert, go to a restaurant, go to a soccer match and they're blown apart and there are corpses in the streets of one of the beacons of Western civilization, and Obama says, “oh, it's a setback, a setback.”
HANNITY: A setback. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/17/15]
Sean Hannity: Obama Said The Terror Attacks In Paris Were “Just A Little Setback.” On the November 17 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity discussed the president's response to the terror attacks in Paris by asserting that Obama called the attacks “just a little setback.” Hannity also argued that Obama is “a pathological illness of a president” who does not understand the threat of ISIS:
SEAN HANNITY: If you think it's bad that we have a, what is now a pathological illness of a president that is incapable of acknowledging radical Islam exists,and refuses to say the words, and passes off euphemisms like man-caused disasters, and overseas contingency operations, and workplace violence, and the JV team, and tells us before the Paris attacks that they're contained. ... And then saying after the attack, “Oh, that's just a little setback.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/17/15]