Fleischer on Daschle talk-radio comments

By Les Kinsolving

Editor’s note: Each week, WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asks the tough questions no one else will ask. And each week, WorldNetDaily brings you the transcripts of those dialogues with the president and his spokesman. If you’d like to suggest a question for the White House, submit it to WorldNetDaily’s exclusive interactive forum MR. PRESIDENT!

In today’s White House news briefing, WND asked presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer about the murder of an American missionary in Lebanon and Sen. Tom Daschle’s recent comments about talk radio in the U.S.

WND: Page 1 of this morning’s New York Times deals with an American Christian missionary, Ms. Bonnie Penner Witherall, age 31, who was in the prenatal clinic of her mission station inside Lebanon when she was shot three times in the head from close range, apparently by one of the non-peace-loving Muslims after Sheik Maher Hammoud denounced her mission from the pulpit of his mosque. And my question is, as a born-again Christian, what is the president’s reaction to this and what is he going to do about this murder of an American citizen?

FLEISCHER: The president is very concerned about all the violence that is occurring in the region there, and these are grave causes for concern. The killing of any innocent who is there to do their work is a matter of concern for our government, and this is part of the president’s focus on trying to bring peace to that region.

WND: Ari, does the president in any way agree with Sen. Daschle’s denunciation of talk radio? Or does he agree with the Washington Post media critic, Howard Kurtz, that talk radio has democratized – that’s small “d” – has democratized the airwaves, despite President Clinton’s 1994 denunciation of us?

FLEISCHER: What criticism are you referring to specifically?

WND: What Sen. Daschle said.

FLEISCHER: What are you referring to specifically that he said?

WND: Well, everything he said. The president doesn’t agree with Daschle, does he, Ari? (Laughter.) Does he, Ari?

FLEISCHER: Let me just say this, Lester. You don’t work for talk radio, do you? (Laughter.)

WND: Welcome back, by the way.

FLEISCHER: Thank you for that particular welcome.

I will say that I think it is not appropriate to compare fundamentalism abroad with people in America who hold deep views about legitimate democratic political dialogue. There is no connection, and I think it’s not accurate, nor is it appropriate to draw a connection between the fundamentalism that leads to terrorism abroad, and Americans on either side of political debate who may hold deeply held views in the finest of peaceful American traditions in which we are free to clash over ideas. There is no comparison.

WND: In other words, he totally disagrees with Daschle on this issue, doesn’t he, Ari?

FLEISCHER: I think I’ve just expressed it.

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