Obama: ‘Saturation’ of Media Stories on Terrorism Driving Public Fears

December 21, 2015

President Obama said a "saturation" of media stories about terrorism was driving public fears and criticism of his Islamic State policy during an NPR interview posted Monday.

"What is the public missing about your strategy?" NPR host Steve Inskeep asked. "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 said. "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."

Obama later said it was a "legitimate" story but appeared to bristle at the media for chasing 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."

Obama said during a recent off-the-record meeting with liberal journalists that he hadn't realized Americans were so fearful about terrorism because he hadn't watched enough cable news.

The New York Times initially reported the remarks on background, but then removed them from its online edition of the story, drawing charges of liberal bias and Obama favoritism with its deletion of the potentially embarrassing statement.