When White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made his first Fox News appearance in that role, he may have thought that having Shepard Smith interview him would make the exercise a relative cakewalk.
It didn't happen. Even though Smith, as Matt Sheffield observed last year at NewsBusters, is "not known as any sort of conservative," he was clearly critical of Earnest's breezy claims about the wondrous "coalition" allegedly being assembled to fight ISIS/ISIL without U.S. combat forces, calling it "as the president once put it, something of a fantasy." The video and a transcript of key segments follow the jump.
First, the video (HT Washington Free Beacon):
Transcript of key portions of the video (bolds are mine):
(at 1:52 mark)
JOSH EARNEST: There's no doubt that boots on the ground are necessary to take the fight to ISIL —
SHEPARD SMITH: I know, but are those the only boots that are available, and if so are they good boots? Will those boots to the job?
EARNEST: Well, shep, they will do the job more effectively in terms of solving our longer-term problem. We need to make sure that it's Iraqi security forces who are taking responsibility for their own country —
SMITH: Oh, no doubt. But last time we gave the Iraqi security forces, Josh, you're in this job yet, but last time we gave Iraqi security forces weapons, they put them on the ground and gave them to ISIL. Now ISIL's trying to kill people with them. The fear among some of that could happen again.
(at the 4:36 mark)
EARNEST: ... we are going to have Muslim-led countries who are part of this coalition. This is not going to be the United States against ISIL. This will be the international community, including the Muslim world, against these extremists —
SMITH: Like Saudi Arabia's gonna have some boots over there. Or Jordan.
EARNEST: I will let individual members of the coalition announce the commitments that they're prepared to make.
SMITH: There will be no commitment from those two. I will bet every penny I will ever make it this network.
EARNEST: that's a substantial bet.
SMITH: It is a big bet, and it's a good bet, because it's not gonna happen and the whole world knows it. That's why I wonder if sometimes like, when the Bush administration was doing this, these questions were asked from this desk and now that you are doing it, these are fair questions that deserve answers. We have a coalition of the Muslim world? I don’t see it.
No one from Saudi Arabia, no one from Jordan–it has its own problems, Turkey has its own problems. We are not getting help from any of those nations, and to suggest that these people, with great respect, from Syria, who are not organized, and the Pentagon says it will take a year to train, and the Iraqi army, which has already folded and given away the weapons, are going to come together and fight ISIL for us and with us seems like, as the president once put it, something of a fantasy.
So much for that cakewalk.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.