The White House posted a transcript of the press gaggle aboard Air Force One held Monday morning as President Barack Obama traveled to New York City for a day of fundraising, a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman and an event promoting the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
While Sunday evening’s thwarted Islamist terror attack on a ‘Draw Muhammad’ event in Garland, Texas was the lead news story Monday morning, the assembled press corps did not ask Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the attack until the fourth question.
The unidentified questioner, or questioners, expressed no concern that Islamists had attacked Americans on American soil. Instead all three questions asked (in a row) about the attack sought to blame the victims.
“Q Can I ask you about the shooting in Texas? Does the White House condemn the contest, and do they hold the organizers responsible for inciting violence?”
“Q Did the organizers at the event incite violence by having that event?”
“Q Did the President find it offensive to have a contest drawing the prophet?”
To his credit, Earnest, speaking for Obama, defended the right of Americans to engage in free expression without being violently attacked. Earnest also did not criticize the organizers of the event, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer with the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Shamefully, no reporters in the gaggle challenged the ‘blame the victims’ premise of the questions.
The press then went on to other topics. However, several questions later one reporter asked an informed question on the attack.
White House transcript of the Q and A on the attack:
“Q Can I ask you about the shooting in Texas? Does the White House condemn the contest, and do they hold the organizers responsible for inciting violence?
“MR. EARNEST: Let me start by saying that the President was informed last night of the violence outside Dallas. There is an ongoing local investigation, so I won’t have a whole lot to say about the specific incident. I will repeat a principle that you’ve heard from me before, which is specifically that there’s no act of expression, even if it’s offensive, that justifies an act of violence. And, again, there have been — we have seen extremists try to use expressions that they consider to be offensive as a way to justify violence, not just in this country but around the world. And in the mind of the President, there’s no form of expression that would justify an act of violence.
“Let me also say that based on the initial reports about what happened in Texas last night, we saw a pretty important and notable display of bravery on the part of first responders who responded promptly to the situation. And because of their courage, the only person that was injured by the two gunmen was a security officer who sustained what I understand to be a relatively minor gunshot wound. And so I think for that, our gratitude goes out to those first responders who acted so bravely and courageously to prevent further bloodshed.
“Q Did the organizers at the event incite violence by having that event?
“MR. EARNEST: Well, again, there’s no act of expression, even if some people might find it offensive, that could justify an act of violence.
“Q Did the President find it offensive to have a contest drawing the prophet?
“MR. EARNEST: Well, I haven’t spoken to the President about it. I’ll tell you that I was unaware of the event prior to some of the news breaking about the violence that occurred there last night.”
“Q Also, on Texas, you said that the President was informed last night after the gunmen — that incident. Has he also been informed that today they have identified Elton Simpson to be one of the gunmen and that he was actually dismissed by a judge in 2010 for making false statements to the FBI on plans that he traveled — wanted to travel to Somalia to prepare for jihad. Is that something that the President is aware of? And is he in touch with the intelligence community about who this person may have been and any affiliations they may have to overseas organizations?
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“MR. EARNEST: Let me just say as a general matter, when the President was informed of this incident last night, the President asked to be kept up to date on the latest details of the investigation. So I’m not in a position to confirm any of the details that have been reported today, but the President is in touch with his team about the ongoing investigation into this incident.”