Robert Reich Blames ‘Press' for 'Making’ ISIS Into ‘a Big Deal’; Causing ‘More People’ to Join Ranks

While on Thursday’s edition of The Nightly Show on Comedy Central, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich expressed concern that the media has been covering the terrorist group ISIS too heavily and in turn has been causing the group’s ranks to swell. 

After being asked by host Larry Wilmore to explain why “all these westerners [are] joining ISIS,” Reich dismissed that premise by declaring that “there are not that many trying to join ISIS” considering: “Out of 600 million Europeans and Americans you’ve got, what, 400, 800 trying to join ISIS? This is not a big deal.”

Continuing to downplay the Islamic extremist group, Reich slammed press coverage of ISIS: “The press is making it a big deal and the more we talk about it, the more people are gonna go.”

Shocked with what Reich was saying, Wilmore shot back and wanted some clarification: “Well, you don't think ISIS is a big deal?” Reich then backtracked slightly, saying that they are indeed “a big deal” after all. Nonetheless, Reich still tried to push back on Wilmore’s initial question that westerners are joining their ranks.

The liberal host responded by indirectly referencing recent examples of current and former members of the U.S. military being arrested for trying to join ISIS: “But what about servicemen? What about people in the military?”

When Reich mocked the argument by wanting to know “how many” he was talking about, Wilmore made his point once again before trying to moving on: “It doesn't matter. If you're in the military, what’s making you join ISIS? I don't understand what that is.”

Looking to diffuse the situation, Nightly Show executive producer Rory Albanese brought some humor to the conversation by wondering if all the westerners seeking to join ISIS will even be accepted into the terrorist organization:

I also don't understand how do you know you're going to get into ISIS? Like, in other words, like what if you travel like and you have to, like, sneak through borders and take boats and they get there, they’re like, no, we're going to badge you. You know what I mean? You're an American. We hate you. 

Albanese then continued his shtick to his eventually punchline: “It could be like they're like a To Catch a Predator, you know what I mean? Like, no, right? No, you show up with, like, a six – you show up with a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. You’re like, let’s do it. You know...”

With any serious discussion about ISIS all but torpedoed, panelist and real estate expert Egypt Sherrod took matters in a crude direction when she ruled that all the westerns who have been trying to join ISIS are simply “confused” because “[r]eally, I think they’re looking for the Atlanta stripper names ISIS and well – I mean, she’s known to make people cross borders and throw away their lives.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on March 26 can be found below.

Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
March 26, 2015
11:47 p.m. Eastern

[Robert Reich pulls sword out of black bag, which symbolizes ISIS as the next discussion topic]

LARRY WILMORE: Oh, nice. Okay, that's ISIS. There is an absurd mount of this – this is amazing to me. We’ve covered it during the headline of all these westerners joining ISIS. I don't understand that. You know, we have the teen girls and all this. Why are people trying to join ISIS? What's going on? Yes, I’m looking at you Robert. You have the answer to this. 

ROBERT REICH: Alright, I’ll give it to you – I think that there are not that many trying to join ISIS and you say all these European, all these Americans. Out of 600 million Europeans and Americans you’ve got, what, 400, 800 trying to join ISIS? This is not a big deal. The press is making it a big deal and the more we talk about it, the more people are gonna go.

WILMORE: Well, you don't think ISIS is a big deal? 

REICH: No, IS is a big deal and we're talking about the people who from, you know, Europeans and Americans who are going over there –

WILMORE: But what about servicemen? What about people in the military? I mean, what is –

REICH: How many? How many? 

WILMORE: It doesn't matter. If you're in the military, what's making you join ISIS? I don't understand what that is. 

THE NIGHTLY SHOW EXECUTIVE PRODUCER RORY ALBANESE: I also don't understand how do you know you're going to get into ISIS? Like, in other words, like what if you travel like and you have to, like, sneak through borders and take boats and they get there, they’re like, no, we're going to badge you. You know what I mean? You're an American. We hate you. 

WILMORE: Surprise.

ALBANESE: It could be like they're like a To Catch a Predator, you know what I mean? Like, no, right? No, you show up with, like, a six – you show up with a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. You’re like, let’s do it. You know, and –

WILMORE: You want to be a traitor? I'll show you.

EGYPT SHERROD: Honestly, I think it wants a big misunderstanding. We even heard about the college students who tried to join ISIS as well. I think it's a misunderstanding. 

WILMORE: Please explain misunderstanding. What do you mean? 

SHERROD: I think they’re confused. I don't think they're trying to join a terrorist group. Really, I think they're looking for the Atlanta stripper names ISIS and well – I mean, she’s known to make people cross borders and throw away their lives.

NB Daily Iraq Middle East Military War on Terrorism Liberals & Democrats Comedy Central Nightly Show Video Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS Larry Wilmore Robert Reich
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