Sunday Obamathon Turns Into Media Critique; Says Press is Perpetuating 'Rude' Behavior
They say you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you. But the 44th President of the United States doesn't seem to be worried about that.
President Barack Obama, still with no fear of being overexposed, made the rounds on five Sunday morning talk shows on Sept. 20 to make another attempt at winning the hearts and minds over on his vague health care proposal.
According to Obama, alleging he wasn't doing any "media-bashing," mentioned the three major cable news networks by name, and said they were the ones enabling the "rude" behavior that some of their on-air voices have decried by giving it so much attention.
"I think it's important for the media, you know - not to do any media-bashing here - to recognize that right now, in this 24-hour news cycle, the easiest way to get on CNN is or Fox or any of the other stations, MSNBC is to say something rude and outrageous," Obama said on CNN's Sept. 20 "State of the Union." "If you're civil and polite and you're sensible and you don't exaggerate the-bad things about your opponent and you know, you might get on one of the Sunday shows. But you're not going to be on the loop. And, you know, part of what I'd like to see is all of us reward decency and civility in our political discourse."
And this was a theme in his other appearances. He made a similar statement about being "rude" on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
"I think, that frankly, the media encourages some of the outliers in behavior, because, let's face it - the easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude," Obama said on ABC's Sept. 20 "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "If you're just being sensible and giving people the benefit of the doubt and you're making your arguments, you don't, you don't get time on the nightly news."
Interestingly, Obama seemed to have no problem yucking it up at the White House Correspondents' Dinner with comedian Wanda Sykes, who said she hoped conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's kidneys failed. But the Commander-in-Chief urged those in Washington to "disagree without being disagreeable" and thus falling victim to the 24-hour news cycle.
"Well, look - I think that we have an obligation in Washington, as leaders, to make sure that we are sending a strong message that we can disagree without being disagreeable, without, you know, questioning each other's motives," Obama said on NBC's Sept. 20 "Meet the Press." "When we start caricaturing the other side, I think that's a problem. And unfortunately, we've got, as I've said before, a 24-hour news cycle where what gets you on the news is controversy. What gets you on the news is the extreme statement. The easiest way to get 15 minutes on the news, or your 15 minutes of fame, is to be rude."
Obama called the coverage of conflict "catnip to the media," which includes cable television and blogs.
"One last point I've got to make, Bob and that is I do think part of what's different today is that the 24-hour news cycle and cable television and blogs and all this, they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides," Obama said on CBS's Sept. 20 "Face the Nation." "They can't get enough of conflict. It's catnip to the media right now. And so the easiest way to get 15 minutes of fame is to be rude to somebody. In that environment I think it makes it more difficult for us to solve the problems that the American people sent us here to solve."
Whether or not the media, or at least the media that is most sympathetic to the president's policies, will follow his advice remains to be seen.