Yesterday on Meet the Press, Obama told Chuck Todd that he was not specifically referring to ISIL in his infamous JV quote from the New Yorker in January:
TODD: “Long way, long way from when you described them as a JV team. Was that bad intelligence or your misjudgment?”
OBAMA: “Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL. I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally, weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11.”
But Politifact disagreed and gave the above statement by Obama a big fat LIE after contacting the author of the New Yorker piece in which the quote was originally published:
Critics have maligned Obama’s “JV” remark in recent weeks as the Islamic State continues to wreak havoc throughout Syria and Iraq. The origin of the comment is a New Yorker profile of Obama by editor David Remnick. The New Yorker published Remnick’s profile on Jan. 27, 2014. In it, he wrote, “In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated.’ I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.”
Obama responded: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (For the nonsports fan, JV stands for junior varsity, and it usually means a high school or college’s secondary team.)
Remnick confirmed to PolitiFact that the interview took place on Jan. 7 and he was referencing a specific event that had happened just days before: the overtaking of the Iraq city of Fallujah on Jan. 3.
Al Jazeera America reported on Jan. 4: “On Friday, ISIL gunmen sought to win over the population in Fallujah, one of the cities they swept into on Wednesday. A commander appeared among worshippers holding Friday prayers in the main city street, proclaiming that his fighters were there to defend Sunnis from the government, one resident said.
Officials within the Iraqi government told the “Agence France-Presse that ISIL, the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, remained in control of parts of the two cities on Thursday,” according to NBC.
So when Remnick referenced an al Qaeda group taking over Fallujah, it’s clear whom he was talking about.
Obama said his JV comment “wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL.” He was not specifically asked about Islamic State, but it’s pretty clear this is the group that was being referenced in the conversation. The transcript backs this up, as do news events from the time of the discussion.
We rate the statement False.
And there it is. A big fat lie.
So first he blames bad intelligence and when that doesn’t work, he claims he was talking about something else.