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Obama Would Like the Media to Be Nicer, Please

President Obama Drops By College Reporter Day In The White House Briefing Room
Tisk, tisk. Photo: Alex Wong/2016 Getty Images

President Obama appears to be counting down the days until he leaves office and can melt safely into obscurity. During a meeting with college journalists at the White House on Thursday, the president said that at times he’s felt “picked on” and “misunderstood” by press — a downside to holding the nation’s most highly scrutinized office.

Sometimes both Josh [Earnest, the White House press secretary] and I have our disagreements with the press corps and feel picked on and misunderstood,” he said before telling the students they “are going to have a role to play in reducing cynicism.”

The problem with journalism, Obama said, is that it focuses on bad news instead of good. “It is very hard to get good stories placed,” he said. “People will assign you stories about what’s not working. It’s very hard for you to write a story about, ‘Wow, this thing really works good.’”

He went on to say that government employees are “doing great work. But we just take that for granted. And if out of those 2 million employees one person screws up somewhere, that’s what’s going to get reported on. Now, that helps keep government accountable, but one of the things we have to think about is: How do we tell a story about the things we do together that actually work so that people don’t feel so cynical?”

This isn’t Obama’s first foray into press criticism; he also blamed the media for the rise of Trump (ouch). But he did grant an interview to the editor-in-chief of Rutgers University’s The Daily Targum, so he must have some faith in the future of journalism.

President Obama Feels ‘Picked On’ by Media