Not surprisingly, soon-to-be-former President Barack Obama has jumped on the fake news bandwagon. The charge of spreading malicious gossip under the guise of news dissemination is as good an explanation as any, in his view, for why any American might believe that his presidency has been an abject failure.
In an interview published yesterday, Obama had a good deal to say about the media, which he claimed played a role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The challenge is people are getting a hundred different visions of the world from a hundred different outlets or a thousand different outlets, and that is ramping up divisions. It’s making people exaggerate or say what’s most controversial or peddling in [sic] the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs.
The impression he gives isn’t wrong. He couldn’t have won election in 2008 if it weren’t for exaggerations and lies of omission by the mainstream media. But that wasn’t what he had in mind. Reverting almost to his condemnation of “bitter clingers,” he explained:
In this election, [white working class voters] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country….
But the Fox News Channel, which is what he was actually referring to, isn’t new. It was present in 2008 and when he ran for reelection in 2012, as he himself has acknowledged tediously often — and with more than a hint of contempt. If you do a Google search using the key phrase “Obama attacks Fox News,” 1,620,000 results are returned with dates ranging over the entirety of his presidency.
Neither are the blogs, political websites, and newspapers that have been critical of his administration new creations. They have come under attack by the White House less because Obama has preferred living in an echo chamber that tells him, among other things, that his presidency has been free of scandal.
Branding rightwing news outlets fake because they subscribe to a different ideology is disingenuous and naïve. Nor is fake news, to the extent that it exists at all, unique to non-liberal publications. In fact, the magazine in which Obama’s interview ran was sued for nearly $8 million for publishing a pack of lies centering on a rape hoax. Its name? “Rolling Stone.”
(h/t Josh Feldman, Mediaite)