Barack Obama, supposedly America’s Chief Executive Officer, who is expected to lead the country with clarity, is becoming more confusing by the day. If journalists can’t work out what he’s talking about, and they are supposed to clarify things, what hope have we got?
In late January, Obama had an interview with Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein and executive editor Max Iglesias. He blamed the reception created by their report on the media strategy “if it bleeds, it leads.” He also said policy stories are not a sexy sell.
During that interview, the president weighed in on his belief that the media “overstates” terror threats and creates alarm. “Absolutely,” Obama responded. That one statement created uproar across the nation.
Speaking about the ISIS rampage in the Middle East, Obama said “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris. We devote enormous resources to that, and it is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that, the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”
Described the incident as one of “random shootings” has disturbed many people, all over the world. How could it have been “random shootings,” when one of the perpetrators told a French journalist after the event, that he wanted to “kill some Jews?”
It was not random at all, but Obama is unwilling to see what is plainly obvious.
But, noted the president: “We also have to attend to a lot of other issues, and we’ve got to make sure we’re right-sizing our approach so that what we do isn’t counterproductive. I would argue that our invasion of Iraq was counterproductive to the goal of keeping our country safe.”
His comments did not sit well with many who listened in. How could he call such barbarism “random?” It was in fact a kosher deli owned by Jews. It is reasonable to assume the killers knew that it would be full of Jewish customers.
The New York Times reported that President Obama’s interviews with Vox and Buzzfeed are evidence of the growth of online media and its power to gain one-on-one presidential interviews to expand his message in his own selected way. It is also a measure of Obama’s inability to control the mainstream media, so he is reaching out to others who may be keen to get a story at any price.
Obama is beginning to feel trapped in his last two years as a lame duck. Now surrounded by a Republican Congress, he finds little solace with the mainstream media that once was firmly at his beck and call. He has lowered his expectations about what is achievable as he serves his final two years in office, National Journal noted, including a growing media partisanship that keeps expanding for his own needs.
He told Vox, “The balkanization of the media means that we just don’t have a common place where we get common facts and a common world view the way we did 20, 30 years ago. And that just keeps on accelerating.” The interview was released Monday, two weeks after it was conducted.
It looks a lot like an image of a president who feels like a trapped animal.