WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the impact climate change and spreading disease have on people’s daily lives is greater than that of global terrorism.
Earnest doubled down on President Barack Obama’s comments he made to the Vox news website, in which he was asked if the media “sometimes overstates the level of alarm” with terrorism fears as opposed to “long-term problems” such as climate change and epidemic disease. Obama responded, “absolutely.”
But Obama said the media is simply giving the people what they want and that many of the hard-hitting topics like climate change aren’t the “sexy story” people demand.
On Tuesday, Earnest explained: “The point that the president is making is that there are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront the impact – the direct impact – on their lives of climate change or on the spread of disease than on terrorism.”
In the interview with Vox, Obama said that terrorism stories are often pushed by the media’s phrase “if it bleeds, it leads.”
“I don’t blame the media for that. What’s the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories and you show fires, because that’s what folks watch, and it’s all about ratings,” said Obama. “Look, the point is this: my first job is to protect the American people. It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.
“There’s just not going to be a lot of interest in a headline story that we have cut infant mortality by really significant amounts over the last 20 years or that extreme poverty has been slashed or that there’s been enormous progress with a program we set up when I first came into office to help poor farmers increase productivity and yields,” continued Obama. “It’s not a sexy story. And climate change is one that is happening at such a broad scale and at such a complex system, it’s a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis.”
Earnest reiterated the point Obama was making when another reporter pressed him on whether “the president thinks that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism?”
“When you’re talking about the direct daily impact of these kinds of challenges on the daily lives of Americans … Americans living in this country, that that direct impact is more, that more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism,” responded Earnest.