The Importance of Being Earnest
9:05 AM, Feb 19, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Josh Earnest, a White House deputy press secretary, answering a reporter's question aboard Air Force One on Friday, inadvertently painted with a broader brush than he intended. The reporter asked why Republican senators were linking Chuck Hagel's nomination for defense secretary with a bid to extract more details on the Benghazi fiasco from the Obama administration. In an effort to cast doubt on the senators' motives, Earnest said the following in his reply:
In retrospect, Earnest might regret his momentary impersonation of a journalism professor. McCain is not the only politician to have employed the euphemism in question. Just two days earlier, Earnest's own boss was speaking at a manufacturing plant in Asheville, North Carolina. In the course of his speech, President Obama said the following:
As it turns out, the phrase is heard coming from the White House more than the deputy press secretary might like to admit. A Google search of the White House website returns at least 729 results. Doubtless some of these are duplicates, but from the look of things, First Lady Michelle Obama rarely gets through a speech without using the phrase, in one case even stringing two together. The president and other members of his staff likewise make liberal use of it. And then there's this individual:
That's right. Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in one instance as recently as October. It seems likely that in the future, journalists' ears should indeed "perk up" when they hear this phrase. And if the past is any guide, the source of the alleged verbal misdirection may very well be the president, his wife, or none other than Josh Earnest himself.
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