Just days after criticizing the online proliferation of so-called fake news, President Barack Obama lauded the “great work” of a notorious fake news outlet which was just busted in federal court for peddling news that never actually happened. (The Federalist)
Oh, the irony. Rolling Stone was sued for a fake news story and lost. They defamed a University of Virginia administrator, who sued them for $7.5 million over a fake news story about a gang rape at a fraternity house.
Obama whined about the effect that so-called “fake news” supposedly had on the presidential election.
ROLLING STONE:Maybe the news business and the newspaper industry, which is being destroyed by Facebook, needs a subsidy so we can maintain a free press?
Obama: The challenge is, the technology is moving so fast that it’s less an issue of traditional media losing money. The New York Times is still making money. NPR is doing well. Yeah, it’s a nonprofit, but it has a growing audience. The problem is segmentation. We were talking about the issue of a divided country. Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone. 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 the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs. And if we are gonna solve that, it’s not going to be simply an issue of subsidizing or propping up traditional media; it’s going to be figuring out how do we organize in a virtual world the same way we organize in the physical world. We have to come up with new models.
Obama: One of the challenges that we’ve been talking about now is the way social media and the Internet have changed what people receive as news. I was just talking to my political director, David Simas. He was looking at his Facebook page and some links from high school friends of his, some of whom were now passing around crazy stuff about, you know, Obama has banned the Pledge of Allegiance.
“This is not simply an economic issue,” Obama added. “This is a cultural issue. And a communications issue.”
All the “fake news sites” I have seen, like “Baltimore Gazette,” “National Journal” et al, are all leftist websites creating fake conservative news. Why? In order to discredit real conservative news sites. I have remarked on this trend for some time now. And now the President is whining about “fake news.” These people are diabolical.
Obama is in full delusional mode: “I couldn’t be prouder of the work that we’ve done over the last eight years. When I turn over the keys to the federal government to the next president of the United States, I can say without any equivocation that the country is a lot better off: The economy is stronger, the federal government works better, and our standing in the world is higher. And so I can take great pride in the work we’ve done.”
Excerpts: The Day After: Obama on His Legacy, Trump’s Win and the Path Forward
By Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone,
My final interview with President Obama in the White House had been scheduled for the day after the presidential election. I had hoped to look back on what he had achieved over eight years and the issues that mattered the most to him and to the readers of Rolling Stone, hear his advice for Hillary and about the road ahead. It was to be the “exit interview,” his tenth cover for Rolling Stone, our fourth interview together. Before flying down to Washington, D.C., on the morning after the staggering election results, I called and offered to postpone. This had to be one of the worst days of Obama’s political life, and he hadn’t had a moment to reflect on it, to be angry or to accept it.
But his office called back; Obama wanted to go ahead with the interview as planned. It was a dull, cloudy day, and the White House was nearly empty when I arrived. It had been a long and unhappy night, and now only a skeleton staff remained. It felt like a funeral.
The last time I had interviewed the president, in 2012, it was a lazy afternoon. I had gone over our time limit by a half-hour, and on leaving the Oval Office, I ran into Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, sitting by the desk of the president’s assistant, waiting to come in. This time it was her ghost.
Rolling Stone has had a wonderful relationship with Obama over the years. I first met him at the beginning of his 2008 campaign, when he came up to my office for dinner. We backed him when he was up and when he was down. He viewed Rolling Stone readers as part of his base. A year ago, we went to Alaska with him and toured the melting glaciers. With extraordinary pride, we watched him ride the wave of history.
[…]Obama greeted me outside his office and walked me in. He was tired. He skipped the usual small talk, took off his jacket, sat in his customary chair and said, “Let’s do this.” He spoke slowly and with precision, staying true to his essential nature: controlled, analytical and cool. There are many things a sitting president cannot say, but this was his carefully reasoned message on a difficult and historic day.
I have to start with last night and ask you how you’re feeling about the election of Donald Trump. Could you believe what you were seeing? Were you blown away like the rest of us? And how are you feeling now?
Well, I’m disappointed, partly because I think Hillary Clinton would be a very fine president. As I said on the campaign trail, a lot of the work we’ve done is only partially complete. And we need some continuity in order for us to maximize its benefits.
Did you ever think this was possible? Did this result ever occur to you?
I will tell you, New Hampshire, 2008, I had just won Iowa and had this whirlwind tour of New Hampshire, huge rallies, huge crowds, and our internal pollster had us up by 10. And around 7:30, as I’m putting on my clothes to deliver my victory speech, I get a knock on the door by David Plouffe, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs. And they’ve got sheepish looks on their faces [chuckles]. And they say, “Barack, we have some interesting news for you. We don’t think we’re gonna win this thing.”
That’s the thing about democracy. That’s the thing about voting. It doesn’t mean polls are irrelevant, but there is always a human variable involved in this. So I think the odds of Donald Trump winning were always around 20 percent. That [doesn’t] seem like a lot, but one out of five is not that unusual. It’s not a miracle.
But aren’t you feeling chagrined, pissed off, upset, dismayed?
Well, I … no. You know, I don’t feel dismayed, because, number one, I couldn’t be prouder of the work that we’ve done over the last eight years. When I turn over the keys to the federal government to the next president of the United States, I can say without any equivocation that the country is a lot better off: The economy is stronger, the federal government works better, and our standing in the world is higher. And so I can take great pride in the work we’ve done. I can take great satisfaction in the people we’ve helped.
I don’t want to sugarcoat it. There are consequences to elections. It means that the next Supreme Court justice is going to be somebody who doesn’t reflect my understanding of the Constitution. It means that the work we’ve done internationally and domestically on climate is going to be threatened. It means that the Affordable Care Act, which has provided 20 million people with health insurance, is going to be modified in ways that some people are going to be hurt by. I think it doesn’t take us all the way back to the status quo, because, despite the rhetoric, the Republicans are going to conclude that simply throwing millions of people off the rolls with no health insurance isn’t smart politics. But probably the main reason that I don’t feel dismayed, but do feel disappointed, is the incredible young people who have worked in my administration, worked on our campaigns. If you look at the data from the election, if it were just young people who were voting, Hillary would have gotten 500 electoral votes. So we have helped, I think, shape a generation to think about being inclusive, being fair, caring about the environment. And they will have growing influence year by year, which means that America over time will continue to get better.
I understand all that, but you have nearly all of the science saying we are past the tipping point, and you’ve got the Koch brothers financing an absolutely obstructionist Congress. That’s not going to change. Their ideology seems to be set on the subject. The money that’s bought these votes is set on the subject. …
Yeah, listen. If you want to persuade me that everything is going to be terrible, then we can talk ourselves into that. Or we can act. It is what it is. There’s been an election. There’s going to be a Trump presidency, and Republicans are going to control Congress. And the question is gonna be, for those like you and I, who care about these issues, do we figure out how to continue to make progress in this environment until we have a chance for the next election. And will we have mobilized ourselves and persuaded enough people that we can get back on a path that we think is going to be helpful for families, helpful for the environment, helpful for our safety and security and rule of law and civil rights and social rights?
And one of the things that I have been telling my younger staff, who in some cases have only known politics through my presidency, is history doesn’t travel in a straight line. And it zigs and it zags and sometimes you take two steps forward and then you take a step back. You are absolutely right when it comes to us needing to feel an urgency about climate change, but what I’ve always said was, for us to get to where we need to go on climate, we got to have the American people [and] public opinion on our side. They’ve got to feel a sense of urgency about it, and that requires us persuading and winning their votes so that we can implement these policies. And we’ve made significant progress relative to where we were eight years ago – [but] nowhere near where we need to go. The Paris Agreement envisions us hitting targets a decade from now. I’m confident that America can still hit those targets. And it may be that more of those targets are met on the back end because there are different policies coming out of the Trump administration on this. But I think that we can still achieve what needs to be achieved.
There’s no benefit that’s derived from pulling into a fetal position. We go out there, and we work. And we slog through challenges, and over time things get better.
He’s stealing my shiz.
[Laughs] What about you? Are you gonna get on the cutting edge?
Look, I am now very much in lame-duck status. And I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I’ve already said, and as I think I mentioned on Bill Maher’s show, where he asked me about the same issue, that it is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage. There’s something to this whole states-being-laboratories-of-democracy and an evolutionary approach. You now have about a fifth of the country where this is legal.
You got up there and said legalize same-sex marriage, and you pushed it right over the edge. …
Well, you know, no. I don’t think that’s how it works. If you will recall, what happened was, first, very systematically, I changed laws around hospital visitation for people who were same-sex partners. I then assigned the Pentagon to do a study on getting rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which then got the buy-in of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and we were then able to [repeal] “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We then filed a brief on Proposition 8 out in California. And then, after a lot of groundwork was laid, then I took a position.
So we’re in the groundwork stage?
One of the things that I think it’s important for progressives to do when we’re in a reflective mode after an election like this is, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say, “Why aren’t you reaching out to the folks who voted against us? And by the way, why aren’t you maximizing getting 100 percent for the things that those of us, you know, who are already progressive and living on the coasts think should be done right away?” The point is that politics in a big, diverse country like this requires us to move the ball forward not in one long Hail Mary to the end zone, but to, you know, systemically make progress.
So how do you think we go about stitching the country back together?
Well, the most important thing that I’m focused on is how we create a common set of facts. That sounds kind of abstract. Another way of saying it is, how do we create a common story about where we are. The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources. And it’s getting worse. The whole movement away from curated journalism to Facebook pages, in which an article on climate change by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist looks pretty much as credible as an article written by a guy in his underwear in a basement, or worse. Or something written by the Koch brothers. People are no longer talking to each other; they’re just occupying their different spheres. And in an Internet era where we still value a free press and we don’t want censorship of the Internet, that’s a hard problem to solve. I think it’s one that requires those who are controlling these media to think carefully about their responsibilities, and [whether there] are ways to create a better conversation. It requires better civics education among our kids so that we can sort through what’s true and what’s not. It’s gonna require those of us who are interested in progressive causes figuring out how do we attract more eyeballs and make it more interesting and more entertaining and more persuasive.
Maybe the news business and the newspaper industry, which is being destroyed by Facebook, needs a subsidy so we can maintain a free press?
The challenge is, the technology is moving so fast that it’s less an issue of traditional media losing money. The New York Times is still making money. NPR is doing well. Yeah, it’s a nonprofit, but it has a growing audience. The problem is segmentation. We were talking about the issue of a divided country. Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone. 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 the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs. And if we are gonna solve that, it’s not going to be simply an issue of subsidizing or propping up traditional media; it’s going to be figuring out how do we organize in a virtual world the same way we organize in the physical world. We have to come up with new models.