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Obama: Presidents Must Be Mindful of Their Behavior

Image: Obama: Presidents Must Be Mindful of Their Behavior
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By    |   Friday, 12 January 2018 09:39 AM

Former President Barack Obama dispensed some advice for occupants of the Oval Office on Friday: be careful of how you act.

"One of the things that Michelle figured out, in some ways faster than I did — was part of your ability to lead the country doesn't have to do with legislation, doesn't have to do with regulations, it has to do with shaping attitudes, shaping culture, increasing awareness," Obama told David Letterman on the comedian's new Netflix show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction," in an episode recorded in the fall, but released on Friday.

Letterman asked: "Let's just say there's a democracy and the voting process is being monkeyed with by foreign countries . . . Hypothetically, what is more damaging to that democracy: Would it be the diminishment by the head of democracy of press, or would it be somebody screwing around with the actual voting process?"

To which Obama replied, "What the Russians exploited, but it was already here, is we are operating in completely different information universes. If you watch Fox News you are living on a different planet than you are if you listen to NPR."

He added, "One of the biggest challenges to our democracy is the degree to which we don't share a common baseline of facts."

"If you are getting all your information off algorithms being sent through phone and it's just reinforcing whatever biases you have, which is the pattern that develops," the former president said, "at a certain point, you just live in a bubble, and that's part of why our politics is so polarized right now. I think it's a solvable problem but I think it's one we have to spend a lot of time thinking about."

Obama also brought up his campaign's use of social media in 2007, and how platforms like Facebook and Twitter have grown more influential and hazardous.

"We were some of the earliest adapters of social media," he said, referring to his first presidential campaign. "And we were reliant on a bunch of 22- and 23-year-olds, and volunteers . . . they were communicating entirely through social media.

"We essentially built what ended up being the most effective political campaign probably in modern political history. So I had a very optimistic feeling about it. I think what we missed was the degree to which people who are in power, can in fact manipulate that and propagandize."

Letterman joked that "I was under the impression that Twitter would be the mechanism by which truth was told around the world."

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Former President Barack Obama dispensed some advice for occupants of the Oval Office on Friday: be careful of how you act.
obama, presidents, behavior
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2018-39-12
Friday, 12 January 2018 09:39 AM
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