During Wednesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated President Barack Obama’s Tuesday remarks, calling the acts of rioters in Baltimore Monday “thuggish.”
Earnest told CNN’s Michelle Kosinski that it was not a deliberate decision by President Obama to exclude the use of the term “thugs” during a Wednesday morning interview with radio host Steve Harvey, adding that he would not “revise” his Tuesday remarks in any way.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI: Plenty of people, I think, when the president used the words thugs and criminals to describe some of the people in Baltimore and since then there’s been some sharp criticism from leaders in the black community of the president’s use of that word. Some analysts saying that when it falls black ears it’s, to some, the equivalent of using the n-word, and we heard that on our air. But when the president did the interview with Steve Harvey that aired this morning, it was almost a repeat of his press conference yesterday except he left that word out. So is that an indication that the administration feels that maybe wasn’t the best use of terms yesterday?
JOSH EARNEST: No, I don’t think the president would in any way revise his remarks that he shared with all of you in the Rose Garden. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of people who were expressing their concern about the treatment of Freddie Gray while in police custody have done so in a responsible way. These are individuals, black and white, I would point out, that have, in the mind of the president, legitimate concerns. After all, that is exactly why the Department of Justice is reviewing the facts of that situation. I know that local officials are engaged in a review as well to determine what exactly happened and whether or not any misconduct occurred and whether criminal charges are necessary. I wouldn’t weigh in on that. That’s obviously a decision that’s going to be made by independent prosecutors, as it should be.
But what’s also true and what did get the lion’s share of the coverage out of Baltimore were the actions of a small minority that were nothing short of criminal actions. And whether that was arson, or the looting of a liquor store, those were thuggish acts. I think the president felt it was important, and continues to think it’s important to draw a clear distinction between those actions and the efforts of the vast amount of people in that community to draw attention to the legitimate concerns that they have about the treatment of Freddie Gray. And, what they perceive to be some broader problems that may exist, or frankly do exist in the relationship between some communities in Baltimore and the Baltimore Police Department.
KOSINSKI: So for the president to use all the same phrases and virtually a recap of the press conference yesterday this morning, but to specifically leave out that word, you don’t think that was deliberate?
EARNEST: I can assure you it was not.