White House Press Secretary Says Reprinting Charlie Hebdo Cartoons Is Media's Call
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest believes journalists and news organizations should reprint cartoons from Charlie Hebdo at their own discretion, following a deadly attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine by Islamic extremists.
In the wake of the massacre, some news outlets have chosen to reprint the depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in solidarity with the magazine, while others, such as The New York Times, have deemed the images unnecessarily offensive to Muslim readers. Security risks have also been of concern, with a German tabloid being fire-bombed Sunday after reprinting the cartoons.
Earnest told reporters during Monday's press briefing that he believes journalists "should use their independent professional judgment" in determining whether or not to republish the images.
“Individual news organization have to assess that risk for themselves," he said. "There are also journalists who assume great personal risk to tell these stories, and we've seen that some of these journalists have been captured by violent extremists who have carried out terrible acts of violence against them. So there is a risk assessment made in lots of decisions that journalists make. I think the point in the mind of the president, and certainly everybody here at the White House, is that that is a question that should be answered by journalists."
Earnest was also adamant that the publication of an image or idea -- no matter how offensive -- does not warrant violence and murder under any circumstance.
"There is nothing that the individuals at that satirical magazine did that justified in anyway the kind of violence that we saw in Paris last week. None," he said. "That is, I think, the most important principle that's at stake here."