Obama Hints That Hillary Clinton Lost in Large Part Because of the Media
In his last presidential press conference Friday, President Obama seemed to indicate that he blames the media for Hillary Clinton's election loss. The president particularly noted the way the media covered the emails from Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, which were reportedly obtained by Russian hackers.
To clarify: the president was referring to emails leaked by WikiLeaks in the final weeks of the election that were reportedly stolen from Podesta and Clinton and were made available via a searchable database on WikiLeaks' website. He was not referring to the other major Clinton "email" story, which is that she used a private server for email while working as Secretary of State and was subsequently investigated by the FBI, which recommended no charges be filed against her.
The latter email story made headlines throughout the election, but it is the former that has dominated post-election coverage, particularly since it's been reported that CIA has attributed the leak to Russians who were trying to help Trump's election odds. Calls for the members of the Electoral College to reject Trump have intensified, and even Congressional Republicans have called for further investigation. However, it does not seem that the president blames the leaks themselves for Clinton's loss, but rather a single-minded media.
Obama was clear in his comments to reporters on Wednesday that he believed they were partly responsible for Clinton's loss, calling coverage of the leaks "an obsession." He said:
We allowed you and the American public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election. And the truth is there was nobody here who didn't have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. I'm finding it a little curious that everyone's suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was damaging Hillary Clinton, 'cause you guys wrote about it every day! Every single leak, about every little juicy tidbit of political gossip, including John Podesta's risotto recipe. This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage. So, I do think it's worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidates, came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks.
The president was also playing defense for some of his last press conference, justifying why his administration didn't do more when it had evidence Russia was interfering in the election. "Folks out there who somehow suggest that if we went out there and made a big comment and thumped our chest about a bunch of stuff... The idea that public shaming is going to be effective doesn't read the thought process in Russia very well," Obama said.