For the third time in a week, President Obama took to TV while on vacation, and broadcasters interrupted their schedules to join cable news networks in covering his remarks — this time with him taking the podium to denounce the beheading of an American journalist by the extremist group ISIS. “The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group,” Obama said in a statement delivered from Martha’s Vineyard. Foley’s beheading is being reported as the first time ISIS has killed an American citizen.
A video released yesterday showed an ISIS militant whose face is covered, addressing Obama directly and warning that any attempt “to deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people,” after which he beheaded Foley, who was kneeling next to his executioner. “People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future’s won by those who build and not destroy,” Obama told viewers this afternoon. “The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley.” He took no questions from the press.
On two previous occasions in the past week, Obama addressed the situation in Iraq, including the recapture of the largest dam in that country which had fallen under the terrorist group’s control this month, but the reason broadcasters interrupted their lineups, in order to carry those media events, was to hear what Obama said about the tinderbox that is Ferguson, MO, since the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.
Today’s announcement Obama would make a nationally televised statement came not long after the U.S. intelligence community publicly confirmed the authenticity of the video. Obama had been briefed on the video last night as he returned from Washington to his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard — which he’d interrupted for a short trip back to D.C. to hold meetings on – and a televised news conference on — the situations in Iraq and Ferguson.
In the video of Foley’s execution, ISIS threatened to kill another American journalist, depending on Obama’s “next decision.”
“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” Obama said in today’s TV statement.
On broadcast TV, George Stephanopoulos anchored ABC News’ report in his capacity as chief anchor at the news division; Scott Pelley anchored CBS News’ coverage. Cynthia McFadden anchored for NBC News, and Bill Hemmer anchored coverage that was made available to Fox broadcast stations. As with his previous appearances on TV over the past several days, Obama’s appearance happened noticeably later than the media told viewers they had been advised. “When [President George W.] Bush said noon, he was there at 11:59 — when [Obama] says noon, it’s 12:45 if you’re lucky,” one exec observed.
Watch the news conference here: