Obama Faults ‘He Said, She Said’ Journalism

He says that nonpartisan media place equal blame on Democrats and Republicans, and it's just not accurate.

Pete Souza/White House
Pete Souza/White House

The New Republic has just lifted the embargo on its [wide-ranging] interview with President Obama, in which he talked at length about the role the media can play in breaking Washington’s partisan gridlock,” Dylan Byers wrote Sunday for Politico.

” ‘One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates,’ he tells editor Frank Foer and owner and publisher Chris Hughes. ‘If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.’

“We’ve often noted here on the blog that right-wing media, especially Fox and Limbaugh, have an outsized influence on Republicans — and are arguably more powerful than most members of [Congress.] But Obama notes that left-wing media plays a role in shaping political debate, as well.

” ‘The same dynamic happens on the Democratic side,’ he said. ‘I think the difference is just that the more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word. And I think at least leaders like myself — and I include Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in this — are willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.’

“The president also faulted nonpartisan media outlets for their adherence to ‘he said, she said’ journalism, which places equal blame on Democrats and Republicans when, according to the president, Republicans should bear more blame.

” ‘[T]hat’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity,’ Obama told Foer and Hughes. ‘And so the default position for reporting is to say, “A plague on both their houses.” On almost every issue, it’s, “Well, Democrats and Republicans [can’t] agree” — as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?’

“Obama also suggested that the media’s obsession with confrontation presented a roadblock. . . .”

On Monday’s “Fox & Friends,” co-host Brian Kilmeade responded to the president’s statement, the Huffington Post reported. “He kicks off the next four years by saying that?” Kilmeade asked in an interview with Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. “They ran a package consisting of multiple comments Obama has made about the network.”

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