Former President Barack Obama claimed that since he left the White House in January 2017, the divided media was the thing that truly kept him up at night.
Obama spoke with “CBS Mornings” co-host Nate Burleson about the divided nature of media — and how that translates to a divided America.
CBS's Nate Burleson: "Post-presidency, what…keeps you up at night?"
Barack Obama: "The thing…I'm most worried about is…a divided conversation in part b/c we have a divided media…When I was growing up, you had three TV stations…We almost occupy different realities." pic.twitter.com/KrNWHjSgap
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 16, 2023
“The thing that I’m most worried about is the degree to which we now have a divided conversation, in part because we have a divided media, a splintered media,” Obama said.
The former president went on to reference the time before cable news, the internet, and the 24-hour news cycle — when most Americans got their news from three main networks and everyone could at least agree on what the facts were in any given situation.
“Today what I’m most concerned about is the fact that, because of the splintering of the media we almost occupy different realities, right?” Obama said. “If something happens that, you know, in the past everybody could say, ‘All right, we may disagree on how to solve it, but at least we all agree that, yeah, that’s an issue.’”
“Now people will say, ‘Well, that didn’t happen,’ or, ‘I don’t believe that,’ or, ‘I don’t care about the science,’ or, ‘I’m not concerned about these experts, you know, cause they’re just all liberals’ or, you know, ‘That’s just conservative propaganda,'” he added.
Obama then said that one of his goals with regard to the Obama Foundation was to explore ways to bring the conversation back to where people could at least agree on a common set of facts as a jumping-off point.
“How do we return to that common conversation? How can we have a common set of facts?” he asked.
During the same interview, the former president also addressed the topics of gun violence and mass shootings — and he argued that the gun control argument had become more political than necessary.
“It has become sort of a proxy for arguments about our culture wars, you know? Urban versus rural. Race is always an element in these issues. Issues of … class, and … education and so forth,” he said. “Instead of thinking about it in a very pragmatic way, we end up really arguing about identity, and emotion, and all kinds of stuff that does not have to do with keeping our children safe.”