Statement Analysis: Josh Earnest on White House Cigarettes
This is a short sample, but rich for analysis:
Did the White House spokesman say that Obama did not have cigarettes in his hand?
I do not care if he smokes or not, but found White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's reply to be useful for analysis. Here is the article, and the exchange.
Question for reader: Did he deny that Obama had cigarettes in his hand?
Conclusion: What do you conclude from your analysis?
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest denied speculation that President Obama was smoking during a visit with the Italian Prime Minister outside the G-7 summit in Germany.
An Instagram photo posted by one of the Italian Prime Ministers staff showed Obama holding a package of what looked like cigarettes, making the image go viral.
“Does he have a pack of cigarettes in his hand?” asked White House reporter April Ryan, referring to the photo.
This is a "yes or no" question.
“He does not,” Earnest replied, adding that he didn’t know what Obama was holding because he wasn’t there.
Note the question "does he" is answered by "he does not", which is parroting language. He avoided the "yes or no" element, instead, used the Interviewer's language. We do not have the full quote here, but the article states that he gave the reason for "not knowing" what was in the president's hand: he was not there. This shows an anticipation of being asked, "How do you know that they are not cigarettes?" yet, avoids information on how he would know, either way. He excuses or explains his lack of knowledge. He does not know what was in his hand, begging the question, how would you know, therefore, what is not in his hand? Note also, what came next, as crucial for your analysis:
“You may not be surprised to hear that I have not raised this issue with the president today,” Earnest said.
What is the purpose of this statement?
When Ryan insisted that the photo was “everywhere,” Earnest replied “I’m not sure that’s the way I would describe it.”
As she continued to press Earnest about the photo, he interrupted her.
What do you make of the following statement:
“I told you they’re not cigarettes, let’s move on,” he concluded shortly.
What do you make of this statement? What is your conclusion? Is he telling the truth? Or, is he lying? If he is lying, does it matter if someone lies over a small issue like smoking? Is smoking of any importance to those who may be in contact to the White House?