This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 14, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (via translator): The mission that is starting is also an answer to terrorism. We are at war with them, so we must put military means that are more adaptive in the face of the threats.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm describing to you the reasons why we have not chosen to use that label because it doesn't seem to accurately describe what had happened. We also don't want to be in a situation where we are legitimizing what we consider to be a completely illegitimate justification for this violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Continuing our discussion about terrorism, what the administration is doing on it, about it, there is, number five is the Fox poll, Obama on terrorism. President Obama on terrorism, what the new Fox poll shows is that he stands at 39 percent approval, 53 percent disapproval. And there you can see the record low and the record high of those two. We're back with the panel. Steve?
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think the problem when you have day after day you have administration officials dancing around and using this term "radical Islam" or "Islamist" is it suggests both to people here and to people fighting alongside of us or who would be fighting alongside of us if we were fighting more of a war that he we don't really know who we are fighting and that we're not that dedicated to actually winning the battle.
And I think it's dangerous because it not only sends the message to people who are on our side but more importantly it sends that message to the people on the other side. And the administration makes these distinctions, sometimes they are distinctions without a difference, as in the statements from Nasr al Ansi, made the statement on behalf of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. No question that is he a member of Al Qaeda core. So you have, again, the administration making this distinction when Al Qaeda itself doesn't make the same distinction.
BAIER: Chuck, what about the French here? You had the French president out on the aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, deploying now that aircraft carrier to the Middle East to step up airstrikes against ISIS, saying it's a war against radical Islam and kind of leading the way here.
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, it's kind of an ironic reversal in a way. He is behaving a little bit like George W. Bush after September 11th, 2001. And there is obvious reason for that, which is that France just got hit and they just got hit very hard. They got hit in a way that threatens to divide their whole society and they have gotten a wakeup call. And they do have, of all the European countries, probably the largest capability to project force like that, and I think he would be under terrible political pressure if he didn't react this way.
I just want to say something about this word game that the administration is playing. You can say that it muddles the picture of who we are fighting and so forth, but you have to acknowledge at some level this is a tough circle to square. We need the support of Muslim countries in this war on terrorism. There has to be some effort made to distinguish between the, so to speak, friendly forces in the Muslim world and those who we are opposed to. George W. Bush did the same thing. He may not have, you know, gone to the lengths of denying that this is Islamist terrorism all together, but he went to great lengths to distinguish --
HAYES: He used the phrase "radical Islam."
LANE: And I'm just saying that that's what -- that is the legitimate intention behind what they are doing.
BAIER: But you concede it is verbal gymnastics?
LANE: Of course.
KRAUTHAMMER: But it's a silly intention. The entire world knows that there is a difference between Islam and radical Islam, and particularly the moderate Muslims --
LANE: That's not Erdogan said.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Erdogan is not a moderate Muslim.
LANE: Well, relatively…
KRAUTHAMMER: The UAE, we'll admit, is a Muslim country. The UAE uses the word "radical Islam." Egypt, you would admit, is a majority Muslim country industry, 90 percent Muslim. Its president stood up and gave a speech on January the 1st to an audience of clerics in which he said we have to reform Islam. This is coming out of Islam. It is a joke what the administration is doing because everybody understands that if you use the phrase "radical Islam" you are not indicting all of Islam. Yet Obama persists in this absurd word game.
LANE: If everybody knows what it is, what is it is what's the advantage of actually saying it? If everybody knows it's radical Islam what difference does it make if he says it.
KRAUTHAMMER: No, because everybody understands that we distinguish between a radical Islam and Islam, but if you, as because you are afraid that there will be people who don't understand that you don't say "radical Islam." You say we are fighting violent extremism -- what does that mean? It means nothing.
BAIER: We will continue this discussion in the online show. That's it for the panel. But speaking of which, stay tuned to find out what happens when the panelists stop being polite but the cameras are still rolling.
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