Obama: Fox News viewers 'perceive a different reality' than other Americans

Former President Obama says that Fox News and the proliferation of social media have increased the current political divide in America.

"I think a lot of that has to do with changes in how people get information," Obama said during an interview with The 19th published on Monday. "I’ve spoken about this before, but if you watch Fox News, you perceive a different reality than if you read The New York Times. And those differences have been amplified by social media, which allows people to live in bubbles with other people who think like them."

Obama said it has become clear to him that the country today is "more divided than when I first ran for president in 2008." 

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"America has been fractured by a combination of political, cultural, ideological and geographical divisions that seem to be deeper than just differences in policy," he said. 

Obama said President BidenJoe BidenGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory READ: The .2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE, his former vice president, is the right person to work to close that divide.

"But if anyone can help bridge our divides, it’s Joe Biden," he said. "He’s spent his life bringing people together. And as president, he’s been focused on beating back the pandemic and rebuilding our economy — ideas that Americans from both parties can support."

Since leaving the White House, Obama has attacked Fox News on multiple occasions, using the network as a foil for pushing so-called birther conspiracy theories and drumming up what he often dismissed as needless and partisan opposition to his policy agenda during his eight years in office. 

“If I watch Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me,” he said in 2017. “I would watch it and say who is that guy? This character Barack was portrayed in weird ways. It is all edited and shaped. ... The point is, you get multiple realities.”

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Obama most recently attacked the network in an endorsement video for Biden when the former Delaware senator was running for the Democratic nomination. 

"The other side has a massive war chest; the other side has a propaganda network with little regard for the truth," Obama said during his video message. "On the other hand, pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real and what is important. This crisis has reminded us that government matters. It has reminded us that good government matters, that facts and science matter, that the rule of law matters, that having leaders who are informed and honest and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart, those kind of leaders matter. In other words, elections matter." 

In his remarks to The 19th this week, Obama said getting all Americans to "agree on a common set of facts" is vital to upholding democracy.

"Until we can agree on a common set of facts, until we can distinguish between what’s true and what’s false, then the marketplace of ideas won’t work," he said. "Our democracy won’t work. So, as citizens, we need to push our institutions in the direction of addressing these challenges."