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White House, Fox host spar over ISIS

White House press secretary Josh Earnest sparred with “Fox & Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck Wednesday over what she termed President Obama's “cavalier” and “aloof” response to the Paris terror attacks. 

Hasselbeck pressed Earnest on Secretary of State John Kerry's assessment that the most recent attacks in France lacked a “rationale,” unlike January's shootings at Parisian satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

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And she grilled him about Obama's claim the attack was a “setback” in the broader fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

“Do you understand at this point how the verbiage needs to change a bit, because everyone in the world sees them as aloof, apathetic and quite cavalier about these lives being lost at the hand of ISIS?” she asked. 

Speaking from the Philippines, where Obama is attending an economic summit, Earnest pointed out the president described the attacks as “sickening” during his Monday press conference in Turkey and noted he expressed “profound sorrow at what exactly had occurred.”

“I think what I would encourage you to do is to spend just as much time focusing on the presidents actions as you do his words,” Earnest added.

Hasselbeck then interrupted Earnest, and the dispute became more heated.

“His words matter, Josh I will stop you there,” the Fox personality said. 

"Let me finish my answer, Elisabeth,” Earnest responded. “Elisabeth, if you want to have me on your show to talk about something as serious as national security you can ask me a question and I will answer it.”

“Josh, we've played fair before,” Hasselbeck replied. “I'm letting you know our president's words matter not just to me, not just to the American people, but to those around the globe who are very concerned right now. He called this a setback. Why?” 

Earnest reiterated Obama has called the attack “sickening” and noted he called French President François Hollande hours after the attacks to offer U.S. assistance in the response against ISIS. 

Obama has been criticized by Republicans, and some Democrats, over his comments Monday about last Friday's attacks in Paris, which left 129 dead and hundreds more injured. 

The spokesman defended the U.S. campaign against ISIS, saying American assistance was the only reason France's bombing campaign in Syria following the attacks was successful. 

“The only reason the French were able to take out these targets overnight is because they were relying on intelligence information that was provided by the United States, they were relying on logistical support provided by the United States,” Earnest said.