In a series of interviews with The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates, President Obama accused Fox News and Rush Limbaugh of vilifying him and creating a “fictional” Obama to distort his record.
In the first interview, Obama said that the conservative attacks on him ramped up once Sarah Palin was nominated as the GOP vice presidential candidate, and went into full swing after he was elected in 2008:
“In 2008 I was never subjected to the kind of concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the whole conservative-media ecosystem, and so as a consequence, even for my first two years as a senator I was polling at 70 percent. And it was because people basically saw me unfiltered. I was at a town-hall meeting, or I was talking to people directly, or they had met me, or I would speak at a university or go to a VFW hall. But they weren’t seeing some image of me as trying to take away their stuff and give it to black people, and coddle criminals, and all the stereotypes of not just African American politicians but liberal politicians. You started to see that kind of prism being established towards the end of the 2008 race, particularly once Sarah Palin was the nominee. And obviously almost immediately after I was elected, it was deployed in full force. And it had an impact in terms of how a large portion of white voters would see me.”
Obama kept up the “blame the conservative media” blame game in his second interview:
“[O]ne of the things you understand, and it’s hard to do, but you—and I’m not saying I’m impervious to criticism—but one of the things that you come pretty early on to understand in this job, and you start figuring out even during the course of the campaign, is that there’s Barack Obama the person and there’s Barack Obama the symbol, or the office holder, or what people are seeing on television, or just a representative of power. And so when people criticize or respond negatively to me, usually they’re responding to this character that they’re seeing on TV called Barack Obama, or to the office of the presidency and the White House and what that represents. And so you don’t take it personally. You understand that if people are angry that somehow the government is failing, then they are going to look to the guy who represents government. And that applies, by the way, even to some of the folks who are now Trump supporters. They’re responding to a fictional character named Barack Obama who they see on Fox News or who they hear about through Rush Limbaugh.”
All that Fox, Rush and the rest of the so-called conservative media ecosystem did was to try and portray Obama in a more truthful way—not through the prism of the liberal media, which helped elect him.