Obama, Buzzfeed and the Washington Post – The president and the media


Obama has made front pages this week with a video made with him and Buzzfeed – he vamps in the mirror, he plays air-basketball and he uses a selfie-stick…and it has 16 million views already! The goal was to promote people signing up to Obamacare.

It’s use for students however is quite different. Firstly, it shows a President more willing to engage with new types of media in order to get his message out to the public. Such use of the media could be seen as part of presidential persuasion: after all, he will be hitting a much different target audience using Buzzfeed than using the more traditional newspapers.

If you couple this with the article from the Washington Post, this makes an interesting contrast. The author claims they have had no interview time with Obama for five years, and their peers at the Times have had nothing since July 2013. Yet Obama is making Buzzfeed videos and went on Jon Stewart’s Today Show in both 2010 and 2012. In terms therefore of manipulation of the media, the Obama administration seem to be making some pretty clear choices. This excerpt from the Washington Post article supports this and could be used as good evidence for where Obama thinks his persuasion is best placed:

“This is not meant to read as a complaint from a whiny reporter who thinks his outlet doesn’t get enough love from the White House. Instead, it’s a statement of fact. Obama has given Jon Stewart more of his time than he has The Washington Post or even the New York Times during his presidency.

Remember, too, that this White House is extremely savvy in its media strategy. Recent sit-downs with Vox, a left-leaning policy site run by former Postie Ezra Klein, and BuzzFeed, the premier site of the social web, are examples of how the Obama administration carefully uses the available media outlets to best sell its preferred message or messages. And Obamaworld has never been terribly shy about critiquing the mainstream media as a tail-chasing ghost of its former self.

Pfeiffer’s comment about Stewart fits nicely into that worldview. And he may well be right about some of the less-appealing tendencies of mainstream media. But what he’s not right about is that Jon Stewart was somehow the questioner of President Obama that the mainstream media never could be. We never really got the chance.”