During Friday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News’ James Rosen if the United States was winning the conflict against the Islamic State terrorist group. Previously in the briefin,g Earnest had laid out a slew of statistics that did not depict a clear picture.
Rosen highlighted that from the time of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, statistics in the context of conflicts can depict a false story or not the whole story. He then asked Earnest again if he could say the US was winning the war against IS without using statistics.
‘There is no denying that we have made important progress and I think that the statistics that I laid out before substantiating the progress that we have made. At the same time we have sustained setbacks consistent with the president’s admonition at the very beginning of this effort," Earnest said.
Earnest went on to say that the president was determined to continue work and lead the coalition of at least 60 countries that would ultimately degrade IS.
Rosen continued to press Earnest and asked if him if he was comfortable with saying if the U.S. was winning. Earnest referred Rosen to the Department of Defense for an assessment that they could share with him.
"He’s the commander in chief and you speak for him," Rosen said.
Earnest said that he understood why Rosen would want a play-by-play of the military conflict but again said what was clear was that progress had been made, but there was still a lot of work to be done.
Late in the press briefing, NBC's Chris Jansing asked Earnest if the administration felt that IS was more dangerous than al Qaeda ever was. Earnest did not answer and returned to the talking point that the U.S.-led coalition of more than 60 countries has led to an increased number of air strikes to ultimately degrade and destroy IS.