Administration, military aiming to improve anti-ISIS effort 'narrative'

Obama challenges media on ISIS coverage
Obama challenges media on ISIS coverage

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Story highlights

  • President Barack Obama told top military officials and other officials he wanted to see a better job of having the so-called "narrative" of the war on ISIS communicated to the American people
  • In a recent interview the President described some of his frustrations about the messaging

(CNN)During a National Security Council meeting held at the Pentagon on Dec. 14, President Barack Obama told top military officials and other officials he wanted to see a better job of having the so-called "narrative" of the war on ISIS communicated to the American people, a senior defense official told CNN.

In a recent interview the President described some of his frustrations about the messaging regarding the administration's moves against ISIS.
"I think there is legitimate criticism of what I've been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we haven't you know, on a regular basis I think described all the work that we've been doing for more a year now to defeat ISIL," President Obama told NPR in an interview that aired a week ago using a different acronym for ISIS. "And so if people haven't seen the fact in that in fact 9,000 strikes have been carried out against ISIL, if they don't know that towns like Sinjar that were controlled by ISIL have been taken back, or a town like Tikrit, that was controlled by ISIL, now has been repopulated by previous residents, then the might feel as if there's not enough of a response. And so part of our goal here is to make sure that people are informed about all of the actions that we're taking."
    Since the Pentagon meeting with the President, senior defense officials have been working on various options for improving communication about the war, including more outreach to the media by uniformed military officials, according to a senior defense official familiar with the effort.
    The official said a major issue is trying to ensure substantive information gets communicated -- and not just messaging spin.
    Separately, a senior administration official noted the narrative effort is being conducted within the Defense Department, but added in recent weeks the administration has been encouraging principals across the U.S. government to get out more to talk about their aspects of the counter-ISIS campaign and to do it before new audiences.