Just days after criticizing the online proliferation of so-called fake news, President Barack Obama lauded the “great work” of a notorious fake news outlet which was just busted in federal court for peddling news that never actually happened.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, which was found liable by a federal jury earlier this month for malicious defamation for its role in pushing a rape hoax, Obama nonetheless praised the magazine’s “great work”:
ROLLING STONE:Maybe the news business and the newspaper industry, which is being destroyed by Facebook, needs a subsidy so we can maintain a free press?
OBAMA:The challenge is, the technology is moving so fast that it’s less an issue of traditional media losing money. The New York Times is still making money. NPR is doing well. Yeah, it’s a nonprofit, but it has a growing audience. The problem is segmentation. We were talking about the issue of a divided country. 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.
Although Obama specifically complained about news outlets which publish “different visions of the world,” he did not criticize Rolling Stone for publishing a vision of the world that included a mass rape at the University of Virginia which never happened. Nor did he criticize Rolling Stone for publishing a vision of the world in which Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was just a misunderstood bad boy heartthrob who just randomly ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd. Obama did, however, take time to bash Fox News, which he claimed is “broadcast in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.” The president did not provide any evidence to support this assertion.
Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone‘s publisher, interviewed Obama in the Oval Office on behalf of the magazine. His personal company, Wenner Media, was found liable for defamation with “actual malice” to the tune of $1 million in the University of Virginia rape hoax case.