Fox News’ Ed Henry confronted White House press secretary Josh Earnest Thursday afternoon, asking him if someone will be taking responsibility for the “shortcomings” Earnest has consistently referred to during White House briefings over the past few days.
Ed Henry: “Josh, I want to follow up on the flight ban. I know before you said, ‘look, there are already restrictions in place.’ But a very wise person this morning said ‘I think substantive actions need to be taken and it may involve flight restrictions. It may involve moving all patients to specific hospitals. I think this would demonstrate a little seriousness in response to this that is merited.’ You wouldn’t disagree with Jay Carney, would you?”
Josh Earnest: “I think Jay raises some good points. That is why you have seen this administration in response to some of the shortcomings that I identified, ramp up our response to make sure we are closing those gaps.”
Henry: “You say deadly serious, and the president ,we don’t know how long the meeting yesterday was budgeted for, maybe you could tell us, but went on, it appeared, for well over two hours. Some people in the meeting suggested that the president was quite angry that a second health care worker after he was told this was unlikely to happen, that he was demanding answers from people. Do you think that’s a fair characterization as to how this could happen again?”
Earnest: “I think the president was very focused to getting answers to some basic and direct questions about what happened in Dallas and what steps are being taken to correct those shortcomings that have cropped up. Again, the president…believes that some aspects of the response have fallen short of his expectations. he’s got high expectations for the performance of his government when it comes to ensuring that we’re protecting the safety and well being of the American public. That’s why you have seen so much tenacity in making sure this response is responding to evolving circumstances on the ground.”
Henry: “Why hasn’t a particular agency been held responsible? Is there a particular person who’s going to be held accountable. We’ve seen this with other stories: ‘We messed up, somebody dropped the ball, we fumbled,’ and a person is not held accountable. Who’s responsible for these shortcomings you’re talking about?”
Earnest: “You have seen, at least in a couple of instances, Dr. Frieden take responsibility for the CDC not performing up to expectations. At the same time the CDC has been focused on this situation since March. They’ve been offering expert assistance to countries in West Africa to try to stem this outbreak. You have seen the CDC ramp up the kind of assistance they can marshall so that a SWAT team can be deployed in hours of an Ebola diagnosis. You’ve seen draw on their expertise to give clear and better guidance about the protocols that health care professionals in Dallas and across the country should follow when treating an Ebola patient. As we’ve said in a lot of these situations, It’s important for people to evaluate the response, and I think what you’re seeing is the kind of tenacious response that the president expects. There’s a lot more work to be done.”