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Saturday, February 24, 2018

President Obama gave a speech at Syracuse University yesterday at an award ceremony honoring political journalists. He shared one particular interaction with a certain Russian head of state who disagreed with some of Obama’s comments in the current Atlantic cover story on the president’s views. (Video is at 46:23).

Well, Obama dryly noted, “Unlike you, Vladimir, I don’t get to edit the piece before it’s published.”

American media has come under special scrutiny recently. They breathlessly covered the rise of Donald Trump’s loony presidential bid, though they haven’t spent much time at all on his plan to limit the freedom of the press if elected. During President Obama’s visit to Cuba last month, he prompted president Raul Castro — who rarely takes questions from journalists — to respond to a question from Andrea Mitchell.

Obama lamented the coarseness of the political culture and the financial pressures under which news organizations operate. “I spend a lot of time reflecting on how this system, how this crazy notion of self-government works; how can we make it work. And this is as important to making it work as anything — people getting information that they can trust, and that has substance and evidence and facts and truth behind it.”

The president is a well-known obsessive of America’s media culture. In a recent interview with Bill Simmons, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau said “the media ecosystem and how people think is very interesting to him.”

Video (speech starts at 20:13), Transcript.

Screenshot: The White House/YouTube via Syracuse University

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17 Responses to Endorse This: Obama: Unlike Putin, I Don’t Edit Journalists

  1. The answer is arrogant and ludicrous and is a cop out.
    How does Mr obama know what Putin does with the articles in the news?
    Who told him?
    American Intelligence? The Oxymoron par excellence…
    Forget it POTUS. You lost the round by using this lamentable argument.
    Answer the questions and stand to the critics. You are by no means flawless…

  2. He doesn’t need to tell journalists to skew their reporting to benefit him because they do it for him on their own.

    • If journalists skew reports it must be to skew them against Obama or he would get much better press. For over seven years the media has been anything but supporters of him. Ever time you complain about something Obama did you learned about it from the media. We have a free press kind of, not run by the government but by wealthy citizens that want to control how you think. It works for the weak minded.

      • You’re really delusional. It’s a fact members of the media conspired to skew reporting to help get him elected.

        • Why would they want him elected and then turn on him? They lies in the media about him are amazing but you believe them. When is he coming for my guns? If he has destroyed our economy why is it the strongest in the world? If the ACA is such a job killer why are there more jobs now then when he got elected. As I say if the media skewed it’s not in his favor.

          • Just this sentence alone shows the lack of knowledge and bias on the writer’s part – “It’s a fact members of the media conspired to skew reporting to help get him elected.” Would that be the members of the Fox network or the NY Post or NY Daily News, Washington Times and many other right wing media organizations?

      • Give me a break. The media has done nothing but drool over Obama and cover up his lack of ethics and blatant disregard of the constitution. But the public has started to catch on. The press hammered GW for years, no matter what he did. During Obama’s 7 years, they have done everything, including lying, to protect and bolster his image. Guess what, Obama’s unfavorable ratings almost matches GW’s! Experts are now rating Obama as being a worse president than GW. And don’t try to quote the US News rating from 2010. A year later, the US News rating had Obama at 36 and GW at 32!

  3. He doesn’t edit, he attempts to silence journalists (James Rosen) for reporting the truths that he doesn’t want people to know. He has no high ground over Putin in that regard.

  4. While superficially clever, Obama’s comment is actually very unflattering to himself. He implies that not only would he edit journalists’ work if he had the choice, but outright states not that he chooses not to do so – which would be a show of integrity and strength – but that he has no choice in the matter – which is a show of the opposite of integrity and strength. Finally, most of American media is financed or owned by large multinational corporate entities. Large amounts of the American media’s funding also coming from the State, which is, in turn, controlled by the money of large corporations and individuals and their families, whose interests can and will never coincide with the public’s. In Russia, the State and corporations are controlled by known individuals who are neither bought nor sold by multinationals, and whose loyalty to their country is by far less questionable, to say the least. They have every reason to further the interests of their nation and promoting its image is part of that process. The only problem comes in with biased propaganda, and that problem is worldwide. In the US, UK, the EU and amid their allies, this problem is much worse, with goals far shadier than self-promotion of one’s own nation or even one’s own personal image. Retaliation for informational acts of warfare from foreign media do not count among relevant transgressions on the part of Russian media, however, as it would be self-sabotage not to counter-attack.

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