U.S. President Barack Obama says a lack of communication by his government paired with the media’s need for ratings as reasons why his strategy to combat Islamic State militants isn’t more popular with the public.
“(ISIS) combines viciousness with very savvy media operations and as a consequence, if you’ve been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing, all you have been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you,” Obama said during a year-end interview with NPR.
The president said he understands public concern but he believes, “the power of the United States and its allies are not threatened by an organization like this.”
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Obama said that the coverage of ISIS has been “saturated” as the media chases eyeballs and clicks.
“Look, the media is pursuing ratings,” he explained. “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.”
But Obama believes his administration shares the blame for what he perceives to be more concern than necessary.
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“I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I’ve been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we haven’t, on a regular basis, I think described all the work that we’ve been doing for more than a year now to defeat (ISIS),” the US president said.
Obama also moved to allay the public’s fears over the threat from ISIS.
“They can hurt us, and they can hurt our people and our families. And so I understand why people are worried,” he said. “The most damage they can do, though, is if they start changing how we live and what our values are, and part of my message over the next 14 months or 13 months that I remain in office is to just make sure that we remember who we are and make sure that our resilience, our values, our unity are maintained.”