White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe TV show, attempting to defend US President Barack Obama's aggressive live address to the American public the day before, in which he promoted the Iran nuclear deal.
Earnest tried to justify Obama's attacks against the Republican party – but was caught in a lie as he tried to play down one of the president's more serious jabs, in which he equated Republican opponents to the deal with Iranian extremists calling to destroy America.
Earnest was asked by the show's host Joe Scarborough if Obama's rhetoric was called for, stating, "I would say if you compare Republicans who fought in the war with Iranian hard-liners, that would be defined as not pulling any punches. Was that necessary?"
"I think what he did is make the point they are making the same argument that it’s hard-liners in Iran suggesting they should kill the deal and its Republicans here in Washington DC suggesting the deal be killed. There’s no doubt they’re making the same argument," claimed Earnest.
At that point MSNBC reporter Chris Jansing stepped in, noting that Obama "said these are folks who are chanting 'death to America.' He added that little phrase in there."
Earnest claimed that comment came in a different context at a separate part of the speech, but Jansing called him out on his lie, saying, "no, it wasn’t. I’ll read you the quote."
"It's those hard-liners chanting 'death to America' who have been most opposed to the deal – they’re making common cause with the Republican caucus," read Jansing, adding, "it was all one sentence."
Obama began the sentence by claiming, "just because Iranian hardliners chant 'death to America' does not mean that's what all Iranians believe."
Ironically, it was not just "hardliners" but millions of Iranians around the country who chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel" on annual Qods Day as is their custom, which happened to fall this year on the Friday before the Iran nuclear deal was reached.
While Obama has sought to delegitimize opposition to the deal by presenting its opponents as war mongers and repeatedly claiming the only other option besides the deal is war with Iran, top US military officials have debunked that claim and noted alternatives exist.