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Obama: Media's Terrorism Coverage Driven Partly by 'Ratings

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"If it bleeds it leads."

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Obama is looking to frame the closing economic arguments of the midterm campaign. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Barack Obama said the national media is quick to cover terrorism in part because of "ratings."

In an interview with Vox, Obama was asked whether he thinks the media "sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic diseases."

Obama responded, “Absolutely."

“I don’t blame the media for that. What’s the famous saying about local news casts, if it bleeds it leads," Obama said. "You show crime stories and you show fires. That’s what folks watch. It’s all about ratings."

"The problems of terrorism and dysfuntion and chaos along with plane crashes, that’s the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs," he continued. "There is just not going to be a lot of interest in a headline story that we have cut infant mortality, or that extreme poverty has been slashed.”

He added that “climate change is happening at such a broad scale” that it’s “a hard story for the media to tell.”

But he said that terror groups like the Islamic State should be covered.

“It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” Obama said. “We devote enormous resources to that, and it is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that — the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”

During the domestic policy portion of the interview, when asked about political polarization, Obama blamed gerrymandering, the Senate filibuster and a fragmented news media.

“The balkanization of the media means that we just don't have a common place where we get common facts and a common worldview the way we did 20, 30 years ago, and that just keeps on accelerating, you know, and I'm not the first to observe this,” Obama said. “You've got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh folks and then you've got the MSNBC folks and the — I don't know where Vox falls into that, but you guys are, I guess, for the brainiac-nerd types. But the point is that technology which brings the world to us also allows us to narrow our point of view. That's contributed to it.”

(H/T: Mediaite)

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