Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi, former President Barack Obama said he would not have voted for himself if he only watched Fox News and warning that Americans need to escape their information “bubbles”.
During a discussion on social media and traditional media outlets, Obama said that networks like Fox News have created “information silos,” where different groups of people are getting different information based on what news source they consume.
“Those who watch Fox News and those who read The New York Times occupy completely different realities,” he said.
“If I watch(ed) Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me.”
Obama elaborated by saying the network portrays him as an “unrecognizable character.”
“I would watch it [and say] ‘Who is that guy? This character named Barack Obama and he’s just portrayed in these weird ways’,” he said.
Obama warned that a lack of access to balanced and varied information is a direct threat to democracy.
“More and more we’re fitting facts to suit our opinions rather than formulating our opinions based on facts, and this poses a great danger because democracies cannot function if we cannot agree on a basic baseline of what is true and what is false,” Mr Obama said.
“We’re more connected than ever before but it’s also easier now to retreat into our own bubbles.”
He added that it was also clear the “values of pluralism, of tolerance, the values of openness and the rule of law” were under threat.
“We have to promote these values every day because there’s a competing narrative, these values are often under attack,” he said.
“We should feel confident about the progress we’ve made – in my lifetime and yours – but we shouldn’t feel complacent.”
In a clear reference to President Trump, Obama also advised attendees at the Indian leadership conference not to tweet “the first thing that pops in your head. Have a little bit of an edit function.”
Obama also received laughter from attendees when he said there was currently “a little bit of a pause in American leadership.”
When former President Obama was a few months into his first term, Fox News was dedicating part of its 24-7 broadcast to cover the biggest scandal D.C. had ever seen, the nation’s first African-American president ordering Dijon mustard as a condiment for his burger.
On May 2009, the leader of the free world made headlines across right-wing outlets after ordering a hamburger with spicy Dijon mustard, rather than with the “American” condiment of choice, ketchup.
Bloomberg News’ Sahil Kapur highlighted how right-wing media condemned Obama at this point in his presidency:
The controversy surrounding Barack Obama around this point in his presidency. pic.twitter.com/F8PqAHfKL3
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 9, 2017
The absurd story was picked up by Fox News host Sean Hannity, who featured a photoshopped image of Obama surrounded by bottles of mustard with the caption “PRESIDENT POUPON” on a banner.
Hannity mocked the president for claiming to be a “man of the people” while putting Dijon on his red meat.
“I hope you enjoyed that fancy burger, Mr. President,” Hannity said.
Watch Hannity’s hard-hitting “news” segment, below:
Obama criticized Fox News and Sean Hannity at the time in an interview with Fox News’ former anchor Bill O’Reilly, noting the extremism and hate he was facing from the right during his short time in the Oval Office.