President Barack Obama complained that Fox News made him “look scary” during his first run for president, and suggested that his race was part of the network’s attempt to slant the presidential election.
Obama made his remarks during a conversation with author Marilynne Robinson which was published by The New York Review.
While discussing a book she wrote about Iowa, Obama recalled his own experiences with the people there as he was running for president.
“I wasn’t viewed through this prism of Fox News and conservative media, and making me scary,” he said, adding that it was easy for him to connect with people in the state in the early days of the campaign.
“At the time, I didn’t seem scary, other than just having a funny name,” he said. “I seemed young. Sometimes I look at my pictures from then and I say, I can’t believe anybody voted for me because I look like I’m twenty-five.”
Obama indicated that he felt connections with people in middle America because they reminded him of his white side of the family.
“I’d go into these towns and everybody felt really familiar to me, because they reminded me of my grandparents and my mom and that attitude that you talk about,” he said. “You saw all through the state.”
Obama explained that he was puzzled that the decent people found all around America were so divided when it came to politics. “There’s all this goodness and decency and common sense on the ground, and somehow it gets translated into rigid, dogmatic, often mean-spirited politics,” he said.
While the conversation was intended to highlight the author, Obama spent a large part of the interview referring to himself throughout the interview – using the word “I” over fifty times and speaking 2000 words of the 3,800 word interview.
Obama explained that the conversation was part of a White House strategy to communicate with different audiences than the mainstream media.
“We had this idea that ‘Why don’t I just have a conversation with somebody I really like and see how it turns out,’” he said.