WATCH: Obama Mentions Syria Four Times Before Chuck Todd Says “You’ve Not Said the Word, ‘Syria'”
On Sunday, Chuck Todd debuted his Meet the Press tenure by interviewing President Obama. The two primarily discussed the threat from ISIL, and the President’s handling of it.
At the 8:25 mark of the interview, Todd’s roughly fifth question for the President began with the statement,
“You’ve not said the word, “Syria,” so far in our conversation.”
This is a subtle accusation that the President was evading a central aspect of the issue. However, President Obama had said “Syria” four times prior to that, and not in any cagey way. The fourth time was mere seconds earlier.
First, after Todd asked the President if he was preparing for a new war, Obama said,
“ISIL poses a broader threat because of its territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria. But the good news is coming back from the most recent NATO meeting is the entire international community understands that this is something that has to be dealt with.”
Second, addressing the growing threat of ISIL, Obama said,
“And we’ve seen the savagery not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage but the killing of thousands of innocents in– in Iraq thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women the complete disruption of entire villages.”
Third, Todd pointedly asked Obama whether his earlier description of ISIL as a “JV team” had changed. The President responded,
“What I said was, not every regional terrorist organization is automatically a threat to us that would call for a major offensive. But what is absolutely clear in ISIL, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq and arose out of the U.S. invasion there and was contained because of the enormous efforts of our troops there then shifted to Syria, has metastasized, has grown. And now we’re going to have to deal with…”
Fourth, Obama concluded his response on that topic by saying,
“We’ve got to do more effective diplomatic work to eliminate the the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq. And so we put together a plan that is compatible with the kind of work that we’re doing now.”
Todd immediately followed this by falsely stating that the President had not “said the word, ‘Syria.'” It was good to see Todd bring a bit more of Tim Russert’s old pointedness to the position, following David Gregory’s stewardship of the position. And Todd may have had a point on the President’s rhetoric changing from downplaying the threat from ISIL to now building a coalition to confront it. But he needs to either listen to his interviewee better, or refrain from slipping patently false barbs into his questions.
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