National Security

White House Spox: Fighting the Islamic State Online ‘Is Hard’

On Thursday White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked by RealClearPolitics' Alexis Simedinger about the State Department scaling back its involvement in online campaigns to discredit the Islamic State (IS.) Earnest said that the United States government might not be the most effective voice in countering that argument and that fighting the terrorist group online "is hard."

Earnest said that out of common sense the voice of the U.S. government might not be the best voice to counter the messages from IS. He added that often the best voices come from faith leaders or  some political leaders and those are the messages that need to be engaged in this effort.

"In any event there are people that can be effective in countering or at least provide alternative visions. It's important work, it's hard. It's hard work," Earnest said.

A six-member review panel that contained marketing experts added to the uncertainty surrounding the State Department program that is facing another management change after the second director in two years left the program.

The panel found a small amount of evidence that the program had stopped the flow of recruits to IS and had concerns about the U.S. credibility with Muslim audiences.

Simedinger asked Earnest where the important work was happening, how far along the effort was, and how could the U.S. media could describe what was happening.

Earnest said that he did not understand her question and did not have examples ready to share with the press corps but could get them at a later time.