What The White House Is Saying

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • CLIMATE CHANGE A GREATER THREAT THAN TERRORISM, WHITE HOUSE SAYS. In his interview with Vox, President Obama said the media "absolutely" overstates the threat of terrorism in comparison to the threat of climate change. Vox asked Obama, "Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?" The president responded in the interview released this week: "Absolutely. And I don't blame the media for that. What's the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories and you show fires, because that's what folks watch, and it's all about ratings. And, you know, the problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos, along with plane crashes and a few other things, that's the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs. … And climate change is one that is happening at such a broad scale and at such a complex system, it's a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis." In Tuesday's White House briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained to ABC's JONATHAN KARL why the White House views climate change as a greater threat than terrorism. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1Cf9k5H

KARL: Is the president saying, as he seems to be implying here, that the threat of climate change is greater than the threat of terrorism?

EARNEST: I think, Jon, the point that the president is making is that there are many more people on - on an annual basis who have to confront the impact - the direct impact on their lives - of climate change, or on the spread of a disease, than on terrorism.

KARL: So, the answer is yes?

EARNEST: … I think the - the point that the president is making is that when you're talking about the direct daily impact of these kind of challenges on the daily lives of Americans, particularly Americans living in this country, that that direct impact is more - that more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism.

KARL: So - so, climate change is more of a clear and present danger to the United States than terrorism?

EARNEST: Well, I think even the Department of Defense has spoken to the significant threat that climate change poses to our national security interests. Principally because of the impact that it can have on countries with less well developed infrastructure than we have.

KARL: I'm not asking if it's a significant, but I'm asking if it's a greater threat.

EARNEST: Well, again, I - I wouldn't have a whole lot more to say about what the president has said in that interview.

  • WHITE HOUSE SAYS SHOOTING AT KOSHER MARKET IN PARIS WAS 'RANDOM.' President Obama has raised some eyebrows by suggesting that the shooting at a Kosher supermarket in Paris last month was "random." It was a comment the president made in making the case that the media overstates the terrorist threat. "It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you've got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris," Obama told Vox's Matt Yglesias in the interview. Asked about the president's suggestion that the market was not targeted by the group because it was Kosher, White House spokesman Josh Earnest doubled down on Obama's characterization that the selection of target was "random." "The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be," Earnest told ABC's JONATHAN KARL at yesterday's White House press briefing. Earnest later tweeted a clarification to his and the president's remarks, saying the official White House position is that the terror attack at the Paris Kosher market last month was an act of anti-Semitism. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1CRVUzf



ALABAMA GAY-MARRIAGE TURMOIL LEAVES POTENTIAL 2016 CANDIDATES SPEECHLESS. Same-sex couples married in some Alabama courthouses Tuesday, but many counties still refused to allow the unions to proceed despite rulings from a federal judge and the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed them to begin in the state Monday. Where the potential 2016 presidential candidates stand on the issue is hard to know, because most of them are not weighing in, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE and ARLETTE SAENZ report. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., declined to comment on the specific case in Alabama, but noted that states will have to comply with what the Supreme Court decides on same-sex marriage this summer. "I've just read the headlines about what's happening in Alabama, so I'm not quite sure what the details are with regards to what the legal arguments the state is using as to why they don't need to comply with it," Rubio said. ABC News reached out to other prospective candidates to ask whether judges in the state should be following or disobeying the federal ruling. Here's what they said: http://abcn.ws/1AaCqp9

WHITE HOUSE OUTLINES PROPOSAL FOR WAR AUTHORIZATION AGAINST ISIS. Top White House officials briefed Senate Democrats Tuesday on what the administration is considering in its request to authorize the use of military force against ISIS, including prohibiting the use of "enduring" ground troops. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and White House counsel Neil Eggleston met with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill Tuesday in a closed luncheon to detail the administration's draft proposal. Several Democratic senators attending the luncheon yesterday told ABC News the top White House officials described an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would prohibit "enduring offensive ground operations" in the fight against ISIS. The AUMF would last for three years and require the president to seek reauthorization when it expires, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ and JEFF ZELENY report. http://abcn.ws/196yFFf

RAND PAUL NO-SHOW AT SENATE VACCINE HEARING IN THE WAKE OF CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS. Sen. Rand Paul was a no-show Tuesday at a hearing on the necessity of vaccines, an issue Paul helped launch into the political spotlight last week by making controversial comments on parents' choice in getting their kids vaccinated. According to ABC's ALI WEINBERG, the hearing, convened by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, on which Paul sits, coincided with a classified hearing on Iran's nuclear negotiations, which Paul attended, according to a spokesman. "He was attending a classified Foreign Relations committee hearing at the exact same time," Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Paul, told ABC News. Paul stirred controversy when he said during a TV appearance last week that he heard cases of perfectly healthy children who wound up with medical issues after getting vaccinated. http://abcn.ws/1vCWa2V

JEB BUSH E-BOOK REVEALS DETAILS ON HIS 30-HOUR-A-WEEK EMAIL HABIT. Jeb Bush released 250,000 of his emails from his time in the Florida governor's office Tuesday, as well as the first chapter of an e-book detailing his attachment to his BlackBerry and how he "spent 30 hours a week answering emails, either from my laptop or Blackberry, often while on the road." When he was inaugurated in 1999, Bush writes in his e-book, he "didn't want to disappear into the governor's office" and email was the way he could "keep track of what Floridians were thinking. I needed their energy and passion and wisdom." The former Florida governor, who served two terms, said he "earned the nickname 'The eGovernor,'" writing back and forth with constituents, staff and even children "very early in the morning, late at night, or on Saturday." He writes that he tried to reserve Sundays for his wife and three children, with "no emails," but "didn't always succeed," according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. http://abcn.ws/1MbkWw5

NOTED: JEB BUSH'S DOMAIN NAME DRAMA. If Jeb Bush runs for president, he'll be starting behind the digital curve - about eight years behind, to be precise. The former Florida governor, who hasn't held elected office in almost a decade, missed the chance to purchase several domain names related to his name and presidential ambitions, giving their owners free reign to make political mischief on websites that potential Bush supporters might visit, according to ABC's KATELYN MARMON. In 2008, a gay couple living in Austin, Texas, CJ Phillips and Charlie Rainwater, bought the rights to the domain name JebBushforPresident.com in response to perceived anti-gay sentiment in Texas at the time. They had hoped their site would encourage Bush supporters to participate in LGBTQA conversations. "Gripe sites and parody sites are protected forms of free speech," said Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse. "So unless the public figure has defensively registered key domain names before someone else snaps them up, there is often not much that can be done." http://abcn.ws/1AVHBsR

WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES CREATION OF NEW CYBER CENTER. Lisa Monaco, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, delivered an address at the Wilson Center Tuesday afternoon on cyber security. Monaco announced the creation of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). The center is modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center, according to ABC's AJ FEATHER, and like the National Counterterrorism Center, it will act as a liaison between both government agencies and private companies to aid in information sharing. According to Monaco, the center will not gather its own intelligence. Monaco stressed the need for communication between the public and private sectors. "Partnership is a pre-condition of success." Monaco said. "There is simply no other way to tackle such a complicated problem." By compiling data from cyber-attacks on private companies, they hope to more easily identify a given hacker or group of hackers when an attack strikes, allowing them to better combat a given attack.

ANOTHER DEM TO ADD TO THE LIST OF WHO WON'T BE AT NETANYAHU'S SPEECH. "The U.S.-Israel relationship is too important to be overshadowed by partisan politics," Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawai, said, according to ABC's TOM SHINE. "I will not be attending Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech because it does more harm than good to the bipartisan U.S.-Israel alliance."


HERE'S ONE ROOM IN THE WHITE HOUSE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN UNTIL NOW. For the first time ever, first lady Michelle Obama surprised visitors Tuesday morning with a public viewing of the newly refurbished Old Family Dining Room. The room - located just off of the State Dining Room - now boasts a fresh coat of crisp gray paint, new golden medal wall sconces, red draperies and a black, white and gray Anni Albers rug. "It's all of our home," said the first lady, who was accompanied by first-daughter-turned-NBC-contributor Jenna Bush Hager. "This is the peoples' house!" With updates funded by contributions from the White House Historical Association, the room now houses an assortment of Obamas' favorite modern art pieces all by American artists, including "Resurrection" by Alma Thomas and "Early Bloomer" by Robert Rauschenberg. But it wasn't always so mod, ABC's STACY CHEN notes. http://abcn.ws/16OFvgL WHO'S TWEETING?

@nedrapickler: WASHINGTON (AP) - Obama sends Congress draft war authorization that says Islamic State 'poses grave threat'

@markknoller: As Ebola Coordinator Ron Klain nears the end of his 130-day tenure, Pres Obama today marks "important milestones" in the US response.

@PhilipRucker: Fascinating @Fahrenthold story about Scott Walker's political birth and failures in college, incl not graduating http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/as-scott-walker-mulls-white-house-bid-questions-linger-over-college-exit/2015/02/11/8e17ea44-b13e-11e4-886b-c22184f27c35_story.html …

@morningmoneyben: Am told tonight's Wall Street event not Jeb's first $100K per head fundraiser. Had one last week in St. Louis. http://Politico.com/morningmoney

@ZekeJMiller: . @ggitcho to Team Jindal http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/11/politics/bobby-jindal-2016-candidate-hire/index.html …