'The Daily Show' Takes On Administration's 'Coup or Not' Semantics
"The Daily Show" decided to have a little fun with what host John Oliver referred to at one point as the verbal "karma sutra" of State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and White House press secretary Jay Carney after more than two weeks of indirect answers to questions about whether former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's ouster was the result of a military coup.
After first reviewing U.S. law, which states that America cannot provide aid to any military that has carried out a coup, Oliver played a clip of Psaki refusing to characterize the situation in Egypt as one.
"I don't want to be analyzing what the legal options are here. That is being closely looked at," Psaki said, to which the "Daily Show" host asked incredulously, "So that's our strategy? We think we can get around our own coup rule if we can just manage not to use the word 'coup'?"
Oliver compared the administration response to a game show where the challenge is "to describe the events in Egypt, but if you use the word coup you will lose everything," he said. "It's like the $100,000 Pyramid, except it's $1.6 billion and the pyramid is an actual pyramid."
He did give Psaki some credit, calling her back-and-forth exchange with AP reporter Matt Lee on the issue an impressive display of semantics.
"She is going karma sutra on the English language, bending words into all kinds of exciting, exotic positions before reaching a climax of meaninglessness," he said.
But after playing a series of clips from White House briefings on the matter, his take on Carney was not quite so charitable.
"That poor man. I honestly cannot tell if he's doing a terrible job, or just has a terrible job," Oliver said to laughter. "I think it might be 100 percent of both."
He concluded with a royal baby analogy to illustrate how illogical he thinks the Obama administration is being.
"It's as if Kate Middleton gave birth, but English law prevented her from calling it a baby," he said. "'Yes, this tiny human emerged from my womb after nine months of gestation. But is it a baby? I don't think we should get bogged down in calling it that just yet.'"
Psaki is being a good sport about the roasting. A State Department official confirmed that even though she's been traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry, she has seen the clip and found it funny.