President Barack Obama surprised college student journalists who were brought to the White House for a briefing with press secretary Josh Earnest.
Obama quickly turned the press conference event in the White House briefing room into a lecture about how journalists should contribute to society.
“All right, so I’m counting on you guys, don’t let me down,” he said at the end of the press conference. “Don’t let the country down. You’re going to be delivering the message to your peer group.”
Obama encouraged the students to reduce the level of cynicism in the country, particularly concerning government affairs.
“You, as journalists, are going to have a role to play in reducing cynicism,” he explained.
He urged student journalists to ask their editors to write stories about how government was working, instead of focusing on just the things that were going wrong.
“One of the things we have to start thinking about is how we tell a story about the things we do together that actually work so that people don’t feel so cynical overall,” he said.
After the final question, Obama began criticizing the electoral process in the United States.
“There’s a political agenda there. The people in power don’t want things to change, they want cynicism,” he said.
He lapsed into some of his more frequent complaints about young people failing to vote and states making it more difficult to vote. He also griped about gerrymandered districts and too much money in politics.
After speaking for ten minutes on the issues, Obama admitted that he had gotten distracted.
“You got me started, I went on a rant, didn’t I?” he said.