President Obama took 40 minutes out of his schedule Thursday to speak with up and coming journalists who had been invited to the White House on a College Reporter Day.

The students gasped in surprise and scurried for their video phones when Obama interrupted White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in order to lecture them with a pep talk and tell them what he expects of them in years to come.

“I hear there are some hot-shot journalists here,” Obama said to the gathering.

The president then told the student journalists that “I’m counting on you” to influence their peers and ‘lead the country’.

“If you participate and you take the time to be informed about the issues and you actually turn out and your peers turn out, you change the country,” Obama said.

“You do. It may not always happen as fast as you’d like, but you’ll change it. So, I’ll keep on talking about this even after I leave the presidency.” he added.

“So I’m counting on you guys. Don’t let me down. All right? Don’t let the country down.” Obama continued.

“You guys are going to be delivering the message to your peer group that this is the greatest country on earth, but only because we have great citizens who are willing to invest their time and energy and effort to become informed on the issues, to argue about it in a respectful way, and to try to collectively solve the many challenges that we face.” he urged.

“The good news is that there is no challenges, as JFK said, that man creates that man can’t solve. I would add women to that.” he concluded.

Earlier in the exchange, while he was fielding questions, Obama complained about being unfairly targeted by the media.

“Sometimes both Josh and I probably have our disagreements with the press corps and feel picked on and misunderstood,” Obama to ripples of laughter from the students.

“But the truth of the matter is, and I’ve said this before, what separates us out in part from a lot of other countries in the world is we’ve got this incredible free press that pokes and prods and calls into account our leaders.” he added.

Obama also said that the students “as journalists are going to have a role to play in reducing cynicism.”

“It is very hard to get good stories placed. 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 said, taking another dig at the press.

He then cited government workers who are “doing great work. And you rely on it in all kinds of ways.”

“But we just take that for granted. And if out of those 2 million employees, one person screws up somewhere — which every day you can count on somebody out of 2 million people probably doing something they shouldn’t be doing — that’s what’s going to get reported on,” Obama said.

“Now, that helps keep government on its toes and 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 overall.” he added.

Obama recently slammed the press, essentially saying that reporters have given Donald Trump too much air time, and not been critical enough of his campaign. Obama said that it’s not good enough to simply “give someone a microphone.”

The president also recently stated that the biggest regret of his tenure is having to operate under intense partisanship in the media.

Members of the press hit back at Obama by advising him to refrain from hypocritical lecturing, accusing the president of being nontransparent and creating an environment in which reporters are discouraged to dig deeper for fear of government reprisals. Others accused Obama of avoiding real reporters and only taking softball interviews.

Here is the full exchange between Obama and the future journalists:


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and

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