In an NPR interview yesterday, the president claimed that the overriding factor contributing to increased fear of terrorism among Americans is ‘media saturation’.
Asking about Obama’s strategy to combat ISIS, NPR host Steve Inskeep asked “What is the public missing?” adding “And I say that simply because, according to polls, you don’t have very much approval for it.”
“Well, I think what’s fair is, post-Paris, you had a saturation of news about the horrible attack there, and ISIL combines viciousness with very savvy media operations,” Obama replied.
“And as a consequence, if you’ve been watching television for the last month, all you’ve been seeing, all you’ve been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you, so I understand why people are concerned about it.” the president added.
In several recent polls, increased numbers of Americans have said they now fear the threat of terrorist attacks.
Obama added that while the attacks constituted a “legitimate” story the media coverage was all about getting ratings.
“Look, the media is pursuing ratings,” he said. “This is a legitimate news story. I think that, you know, it’s up to the media to make a determination about how they want to cover things.” he said.
Last week, the president admitted to a closed meeting of journalists that he did not fully understand the reaction to the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks, saying that he didn’t watch enough TV news to take it in.
Obama has used this line consistently, saying he only learns of events from TV news, often as a way of pleading ignorance on negative revelations.
The admission, reported by the New York Times, was later pulled altogether and memory holed.
In the NPR interview Obama also blamed woeful approval ratings on his ISIS strategy on a lack of communication.
“On our side, I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I’ve been doing and our administration’s been doing in the sense that we haven’t, on a regular basis, described all the work that we’ve been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL,” Obama said.
“So if people haven’t seen the fact that 9,000 strikes have been carried out against ISIL, if they don’t know that towns like Sinjar that were controlled by ISIL have been taken back, or that a town like Tikrit that was controlled by ISIL now has been repopulated by previous residents, then they might feel as if there’s not enough of a response.” he added.
“So part of our goal here is to make sure that people are informed about all the actions that we’re taking.” the president said.