Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ISIS "contained"?

When President Obama called ISIS ("ISIL") "contained" in a televised interview on Nov. 12, 2015, other politicians, including at least one Democrat, gave him some grief over the statement.

Mainstream fact checker PunditFact came to the president's defense. PunditFact said Obama was just talking about territorial expansion, so what he said was correct.

Conservative media objected.

John Nolte from Breitbart.com:
PolitiFact’s transparent sleight-of-hand comes from basing its “True” rating — not on the question Obama is asked — but how the President chose to answer it.

Stephanopoulos asks, “But ISIS is gaining strength aren’t they?”
T. Becket Adams from the Washington Examiner:
PunditFact has rated the Obama administration's claim that the Islamic State has been "contained" as "true," even after a recent series of ISIS-sponsored events around the world have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians.

For the fact-checker, the White House's doesn't believe ISIS is no longer a global threat, as fatal attacks last week in Beirut and Paris would show. The president and his team merely believe that the insurgent terrorist group controls a smaller portion of the Middle East today than it did a few months ago.
We think PunditFact has a bit of a point when it claims the president's remarks are taken out of context. But as Nolte and Adams point out, the specific context of the Obama interview was the strength of ISIS, not its territorial expansion.

If the president was saying that containing ISIL's geographic control equates with containing its strength, then PunditFact ends up taking the president out of context to justify claiming the president was taken out of context.

There's something not quite right about that.

Clarification Dec. 10, 2015: Changed "wasn't" to "was" in the next-to-last paragraph

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