With Oprah, 'Scandal Free' Obama Mourns MSM ‘Gatekeepers’ Losing Influence to Conservatives


Barack Obama took his book tour with Democrat donors and family friends to Apple TV+ this week in a lengthy virtual interview with Oprah Winfrey. After getting a cushy interview on CBS with his vacation pal Gayle King, the former president turned to long-time Democrat donor Winfrey for another softball interview over his latest memoir, which includes passages mocking and demonizing conservative media’s reaction to his supposedly scandal-free administration.

Winfrey started off the interview puffing up the Democrat’s ego in comparing him to Trump (click “expand”):

I cannot  tell you how many conversations I’ve been in and lots of other people too, listening to us—you’re gonna know exactly what I’m talking about, where our  current president has tweeted or done yet another outrageous thing. And somebody says, ‘Can you imagine if Obama had done that?’ So I want to know the same thing, did you ever feel the same watching your successor do things that, uh, in our house we actually  have a joke about it In our house, we call it. We say you would have been carried out in a straight jacket every time. So every time, some outrageous thing we go, ‘if that was Obama, he’d be in a straitjacket.’ So do you feel you were held to a different standard in terms of leadership and leading America?

Obama hit Trump for “breaching so many norms” about how a president should behave before declaring his tan suit as “one of the biggest scandals” of his presidency (click “expand”):

Michelle and I joke about the fact that one of the bigger scandals of my presidency was me wearing a tan suit during uh, press conference. [chuckles] So I had to go back and take a look at the clips about the way folks some pundits were talking about this tan suit. And it gives you some sense that, uh, folks were paying attention to what Michelle and I were doing because it wasn’t just me. It was our family in ways that were unusual, but in some ways not unexpected. And truthfully, Michelle and I, we felt that we should have higher standards in terms of how we behave and ethics and fidelity to the truth…

After that ego-stroking, Winfrey declared, “And and I just want to say and left scandal free, left scandal free!” as Obama nodded in agreement. He’s only scandal-free to the media because they refused to cover his scandals.

 

 

Later on, she asked about passages in the book where Obama bashes conservative media and the rise of Trump, going back to Sarah Palin. “You foreshadow our current crisis on page 170,” she said, before asking “So how can we unite the United States, if conspiracy theories have more power now than the truth?”

Obama laid into Palin for “unleashing” the “visceral anger, resentment, suspicions, nativism, xenophobia, wanting to quote unquote ‘own the libs’ that you now see dominant in Republican politics.” But it wasn’t entirely Sarah Palin and the Tea Party’s fault, he also blamed conservative media:

But what I didn’t fully recognize was the degree to which that power that she had that was tapped into by the conservative media ecosystem and Rush Limbaugh and talk radio and some of the commentators on Fox News, uh, that that would end up actually becoming  the heart and soul of the Republican Party to a large degree. 

Oprah then asked Obama if Trump was a “backlash to your election.” While Oprah didn’t specifically make it about race, Obama talked about being a black president who believed in climate change and America’s racial reckoning “awakened a particular paranoia among some segment of that conservative population.”

He goes on to lament the mainstream leftist media’s loss of influence and power and the rise of conservative media and social media as dangerous sources of information:

And part of what I write about is the degree to which the media changes in a way that I did not fully anticipate. You couldn’t even see  it, but it started just as I’m getting elected the importance of mainstream, the old network. Walter Cronkite, Nightly News, New York Times, Washington Post  uh, them being sort of the curators and the gatekeepers for what’s acceptable and what’s not. That starts to break down, and the media suddenly scatters in a million different pieces, and then you get social media and people are  just absorbing whatever stories they’re telling in a way that’s unchallenged.  And that creates the kind of division and two separate realities or, in some cases, 10 separate realities in which you know conspiracy, theorizing and rumors that Obama is a Muslim or he wasn’t born in this country, or Michelle hates white people  or all that stuff can fester and be disseminated with millions of people believing in it. And we started seeing that fairly early on in my presidency.  

At another point in the interview, Obama dismissed his controversial America-hating former pastor Jeremiah Wright as someone “who had said a bunch of inflammatory things that had scared a whole bunch of or disturbed a whole bunch of white voters.”

Read a partial transcript below:

Apple TV+

The Oprah Conversation, Episode 11

11/17/2020

OPRAH WINFREY: You foreshadow our current crisis on page 170. When you’re referring to, uh, Sarah Palin’s nomination,  you write that it was, of course, a sign of things to come. Ah, ‘larger, darker reality  in which partisan affiliation and political experience would threaten to block out everything. Your previous positions, your stated principles, you say, even what your own senses, your eyes, your ears told you to be true.’ So how can we unite the United States, if conspiracy theories have more power now than the truth? 

BARACK OBAMA: Palin was an interesting figure, although she’s sort of faded from the limelight. And I write about the relationship between John McCain and Sarah Palin, because John McCain and I were obviously, we’re very different people from very different political traditions, and sometimes he got cranky with me. But the truth is that John was a genuine American hero and somebody who I respected and his selection of Palin in some ways nationalized or unleashed on element within the Republican Party that had been there for a while but had never been  front and center. And I think what you saw with the Palin phenomenon was a Republican Party that was less interested in policy. But more interested in some of the visceral  anger, resentment, suspicions, nativism, xenophobia, wanting to quote unquote ‘own the libs’ that you now see dominant in Republican politics

But what I didn’t fully recognize was the degree to which that power that she had that was tapped into by the conservative media ecosystem and Rush Limbaugh and talk radio and  some of the commentators on Fox News, uh, that that would end up actually becoming  the heart and soul of the Republican Party to a large degree. 

OPRAH: Many people, as  you know, have said that Trump, being in the White House is a backlash to your being  in the White House and that everything that followed and that is that that is occurring  now in terms of Trumpism is a backlash to your election. What do you say about that? 

OBAMA:  I think it’s a little more complicated than that in the sense that, uh, you know,  think about the visceral reaction folks had to, uh, Bill Clinton when he was elected  and then with Hillary. Ah, lot of this dates to, uh, big cultural arguments dating  back to the sixties, right? That the disruptions that happened with the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, I do think that obviously having an African-American president who was center left and believed in climate change and believed in the fact that. You know, we haven’t, uh, finally dealt with our  racial reckoning and that there’s more to be done there and believed in making  sure that we take care of people who have less and tax people who have more. I’m  sure all of that awakened a particular paranoia among some segment of that conservative population. Uh, but it’s always been there under the surface. I think what happens  is it becomes more explicit.

 And part of what I write about is the degree to which the media changes in a way that I did not fully anticipate. You couldn’t even see  it, but it started just as I’m getting elected the importance of mainstream, the old network. Walter Cronkite, Nightly News, New York Times, Washington Post  uh, them being sort of the curators and the gatekeepers for what’s acceptable and what’s not. That starts to break down, and the media suddenly scatters in a million different pieces, and then you get social media and people are  just absorbing whatever stories they’re telling in a way that’s unchallenged.  And that creates the kind of division and two separate realities or, in some cases,  10 separate realities in which you know conspiracy, theorizing and rumors that  Obama is a Muslim or he wasn’t born in this country, or Michelle hates white people  or all that stuff can fester and be disseminated with millions of people believing in it. And we started seeing that fairly early on in my presidency.  

WINFREY:  What comes through as the essence of this book to me is this love affair you have with the idea of America. Where did that come from?

OBAMA: …And so it in fits and starts, I decided that if I can be a part  of making America more whole, then then that’s part of me making myself more whole that, that if, if I can, get people who look differently to see each other and hear each other and understand each other, then I’m not pulled apart. And  this was in my race speech in Philadelphia during a crisis in our campaign, and I have to try to explain to the country Jeremiah Wright, who had been my pastor in Chicago, who had said a bunch of inflammatory things that had scared a whole bunch of or disturbed a whole bunch of white voters. [2008 clip] “I can no more disown him than  I can disown the black community…”



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