First the Truth, What Obama said:
The New Yorker article, written by David Remnick, appeared in the Jan. 27, 2014, issue. It was clearly based on a series of interviews with the president, over a period of months, but the interview in question took place in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, according to the previously unreleased transcript.
The date is important because just four days before, newspapers reported that the Islamic State had captured and raised its flag over Fallujah, where Marines in 2004 had fought one of the bloodiest battles of the U.S. invasion. As Liz Sly of The Washington Post reported:
A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago….
The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq.
It was in that context that Remnick asked about a possible resurgence of al-Qaeda. Here is what the transcript shows:
Q: You know where this is going, though. Even in the period that you’ve been on vacation in the last couple of weeks, in Iraq, in Syria, of course, in Africa, al-Qaeda is resurgent.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
Q: But that JV team jus[t] took over Fallujah.
THE PRESIDENT: I understand.
Now for the Lie:
What the Obama Administration is currently claiming, you have to see it to believe it.
One might ask, why try such an obvious lie and insult the press corps? The answer is it normally does work for the Obama Administration to tell obvious lies to the press corps. That the Washington Post has called a lie, a lie, this time, is the exception to the rule.
The Pinocchio Test (Washington Post)
With the passage of eight months, the president’s “JV” comment looks increasingly untenable, so we can understand why the White House spokesman would try to suggest that what is now known as the Islamic State was not the subject of the conversation.
But in quoting from the transcript, Earnest provided a selective reading of the discussion. In particular, he failed to provide the context in which Obama made his remarks — the takeover of Fallujah by ISIS. That’s fairly misleading. The interviewer was certainly asking about ISIS when Obama answered with his “JV” remarks. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/09/03/spinning-obamas-reference-to-isis-as-a-jv-team/