Obama Defends New York Times, MSNBC Partisan News: ‘They’re Not Going to Just Make Stuff Up’

“There’s a difference between facts and opinions,” the former president says

Former President Barack Obama speaks to attendees at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in 2023 (Credit: Getty Images)
Former President Barack Obama speaks to attendees at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in 2023 (Credit: Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama commented on the shifting landscape of media coverage and came to the defense of partisan bias accusations often thrown at the New York Times and MSNBC while appearing on Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett’s “Smartless” podcast.

“I would argue that actually they’ve got some legitimate points in the sense that, you know, there’s a side that doesn’t recognize conservative thought or isn’t respectful to some traditional values that they care about and so forth,” Obama, who appeared on the podcast with President Joe Biden and Former President Bill Clinton, said. “The difference though is, there’s a difference between facts and opinions. And the one thing that our side still pretty much sticks to is the facts. You may not agree with whatever’s in the New York Times or whatever’s on MSNBC, but generally they’re not going to just make stuff up.”

The former president backed up his defense by pointing out that when he was leaving office in 2016, he’d have loved to pretend the elections outcome had turned out any other way. But he didn’t, and the traditionally left-leaning media didn’t either.

“That was painful, right? But we said, well, here are the facts, and there’s a system of government that transcends, that is more important than whatever wins this particular election,” Obama said. “We’re going to abide by those facts and reporting and stick with democracy.”

Bateman asked presidents current and former what to do about those who simply won’t cross partisan lines when it comes to news coverage. Obama followed up with a simple solution.

“You just keep on showing up and delivering the message wherever you can, however you can,” he said. “If you talk to folks enough — all of us, Bill, Joe, myself — all had the experience of going to places where we may not be the most popular person, people may have some preconceived notions about Barack Hussein Obama.”

Arnett quickly followed up by asking about the difficulty of governing people who are opposed to what they believe while the “other guy has no problem throwing anybody who’s not with him under the bus.”

“When I got elected I said I was going to be president for everyone,” Biden chimed in. “I have an obligation to take care of the country.”

Monday’s episode of “Smartless” — titled “3 Presidents” — marked the first time the podcast broke it’s “no repeat guests” rule with Biden being the repeat and Obama and Clinton being new.

Listen to the full episode here.


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