Obama on Media’s Coverage of ISIS: ‘The Media Is Pursuing Ratings’

‘I think that, you know, it’s up to the media to make a determination about how they want to cover things’

INSKEEP: “You referred to ISIL's sophisticated media operation and also referred to what Americans are seeing in the American media. Are you suggesting that the media are being played in a sense here?”

OBAMA: “Look, the media is pursuing ratings. This is a legitimate news story. I think that, you know, it's up to the media to make a determination about how they want to cover things. There is no doubt that the actions of ISIL are designed to amplify their power and the threat that they pose. That helps them recruit, that adds in the twisted thoughts of some young person that they might want to have carry out an action, that somehow they're part of a larger movement. And so I think that the American people absorb that, understandably are of concern. Now on our side, I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I've been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we haven't, you know, on a regular basis I think described all the work that we've been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL. And so if people haven't seen the fact that in fact 9,000 strikes have been carried out against ISIL, if they don't know that towns like Sinjar that were controlled by ISIL have been taken back, or that a town like Tikrit, that was controlled by ISIL, now has been repopulated by previous residents, then they might feel as if there's not enough of a response. And so part of our goal here is to make sure that people are informed about all the actions that we're taking. But one of the interesting things that you've seen evolve over the last several weeks, including in the debates that are taking place between the Republican candidates, is that those who are critics of our administration response, or the military, the intelligence response that we are currently mounting, when you ask them, well, what would you do instead, they don't have an answer. And the reason they don't have an answer is because the truth is that the approach that we are taking is one that's based on the best counsel and best advice of our top military, top intelligence, top diplomatic teams. And we are going after ISIL effectively. We are going after them hard.”

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