President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE said Fox News and conservative media “vilified” him throughout his presidency.
In several interviews with The Atlantic, Obama said he felt more confident about his presidential run in 2008 because he hadn’t been targeted yet by Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh.
“I think I should point out in terms of both my confidence that I could win in ’08, but also the fact that I was lucky and maybe a little bit naive: In 2008 I was never subjected to the kind of concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the whole conservative-media ecosystem, and so as a consequence, even for my first two years as a senator I was polling at 70 percent,” Obama told The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates in an interview published Tuesday.
But, he said, stereotypes about African-American politicians and liberals — "some image of me as trying to take away their stuff and give it to black people, and coddle criminals" — quickly began to take hold.
"You started to see that kind of prism being established towards the end of the 2008 race, particularly once [former GOP Alaska Gov.] Sarah Palin was the [vice presidential] nominee. And obviously almost immediately after I was elected, it was deployed in full force. And it had an impact in terms of how a large portion of white voters would see me."
Obama said people often criticize him based on what they see and hear about him from conservative media outlets.
“When people criticize or respond negatively to me, usually they’re responding to this character that they’re seeing on TV called Barack Obama," he said in the interview.
"You understand that if people are angry that somehow the government is failing, then they are going to look to the guy who represents government," Obama continued. "And that applies, by the way, even to some of the folks who are now Trump supporters. They’re responding to a fictional character named Barack Obama who they see on Fox News or who they hear about through Rush Limbaugh."