Obama: My approval rating tanked because of the ‘fictional character’ Fox, Limbaugh created

If you have a negative view of President Barack Obama, it’s because of the “fictional character” Fox News and conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh created over the years. That is, according to the outgoing commander in chief.

Obama recently sat down for a discussion with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates for a series titled “My President Was Black.” In the first two segments, which were published Tuesday and Wednesday, the president makes it clear he’s no fan of Fox or his conservative detractors in the media.

In the first interview, Obama claimed to be a victim of “concentrated vilification of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the whole conservative-media ecosystem” during his 2008 bid for the presidency. And after he won the White House, he said the anti-Obama sentiment went into “full force,” permanently tainting the way a “large portion of white voters” saw him:

[T]hey weren’t seeing some image of me as trying to take away their stuff and give it to black people, and coddle criminals, and all the stereotypes of not just African-American politicians but liberal politicians. You started to see that kind of prism being established towards the end of the 2008 race, particularly once 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.

And what that speaks to — and this is something I still strongly believe — is that the suspicion between races, the way it can manifest itself in politics, in part comes out of people’s daily interactions and the fact that we’re segregated by communities, and by schools, and our churches, and people’s memories passed down through generations.

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Then in the second segment, Obama told Coates that he suffered from diminished support due to the  “fictional” persona many conservatives, like Limbaugh, promoted because, apparently, it’s unbelievable someone just wouldn’t approve of him.

“There’s Barack Obama the person and there’s Barack Obama the symbol, or the office holder, or what people are seeing on television, or just a representative of power,” Obama said.

The outgoing president suggested that people use him as a scapegoat when they’re “angry that somehow the government is failing”:

So when people criticize or respond negatively to me, usually they’re responding to this character that they’re seeing on TV called Barack Obama, or to the office of the presidency and the White House and what that represents. And so you don’t take it personally. 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. 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.

Obama’s comments followed his determination last month that the reason Democrats struggled to reach voters in the presidential election is, at least in part, because “Fox News is in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country.”

While Obama has most certainly had low approval ratings and high disapproval ratings in the past, the most recent numbers are a win for the Democratic president. Currently, 56 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing while only 36 percent disapprove.

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