President Barack Obama sat down with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine to discuss his legacy in the wake of the presidential election. When asked how the country goes about putting itself back together, Obama had quite an interesting take on the situation.
“Well, the most important thing that I’m focused on is how we create a common set of facts,” he started. “The biggest challenge that I think we have right now in terms of this divide is that the country receives information from completely different sources.”
Obama then continued:
Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone. The challenge is people are getting a hundred different visions of the world from a hundred different outlets or a thousand different outlets, and that is ramping up divisions. It’s making people exaggerate or say what’s most controversial or peddling in the most vicious of insults or lies, because that attracts eyeballs. And if we are gonna solve that, it’s not going to be simply an issue of subsidizing or propping up traditional media; it’s going to be figuring out how do we organize in a virtual world the same way we organize in the physical world. We have to come up with new models.
Absent from Obama’s take on “fake news” was the fact that the very magazine he was speaking to had just been found guilty of, in fact, publishing fake news. Earlier this month, the very same magazine Obama dubbed as “good journalism” was found guilty of defamation for an article written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
Her article titled “A Rape on Campus,” appeared in the December 2014 issue of Rolling Stone and centered around a woman named “Jackie” and an account of a vicious gang rape at the University of Virginia. The story unfortunately turned out to be, well, fake news. The jury in the case found the story was written with reckless disregard for the truth and that Erdely was guilty of false reporting. Rolling Stone and Erdely were ordered to pay $3 million in damages to an administrator at the school who filed the suit.
Earlier in the interview, Obama singled out Fox News as a major reason the Democratic party lost the recent election, telling Wenner, “Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”