Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday accused Fox News of pushing the idea that the Obama administration is afraid to blame terrorist acts on radical Islamic extremists, and said he's more worried about what to do about these terrorists than what to call them.
"We spend more time… talking about what do you call it, as opposed to what do you do about it, you know?" Holder said in Washington. "If Fox didn't talk about this, they'd have nothing else to talk about, it would seem to me."
"Radical Islam, Islamic extremism, you know… I'm not sure an awful lot is gained by saying that," Holder added. "It doesn't have any impact on our military posture, it doesn't have any impact on… the policies that we put in place."
Despite Holder's protest, the Obama administration does seem to be avoiding the idea that a religious war is brewing in the Middle East, a pattern that others besides Fox News have noticed. Some have said the Obama administration is trying to avoid making the conflict sound like a religious fight against Islam or Muslims in general, since doing so could make it easier for the Islamic State to recruit new followers.
As examples, the Islamic State has killed people from several countries, most recently Coptic Christians from Egypt, but the administration put out a statement saying only that Egyptian "citizens" were killed.
On a Monday phone call, White House officials said they have no interest in targeting Muslims in America who might be radicalized, and said there is "no profile" of the people who might be at risk.
And on Monday night, a State Department spokeswoman indicated that the department sees the terrorism crisis not as a radical religious movement, but as something that can be cured if the U.S. somehow takes steps to create jobs in the region.
Still, Holder dismissed the idea that it matters what the U.S. calls terrorist groups.
"I don't worry an awful lot about what the appropriate terminology ought to be," he said. "I think people need to actually think about that, and think about, really, we're having this conversation about words as opposed to what our actions ought to be?"