Obama on 'The Daily Show:' What happened to common conversation?

President Obama talks political polarization and the 'Balkanization' of the media in his seventh and final appearance on 'The Daily Show' on Tuesday night.

President Obama made his seventh and final appearance on “The Daily Show” Tuesday night to reflect on his time spent in office and the lessons he’s learned.

“The one thing I know as I enter my last year as president is the country is full of good and decent people and there is a sense of common purpose at the neighborhood level and at the school and in the workplace,” Mr. Obama told host Jon Stewart. 

“And that dissipates the further up it goes because of the money and all the filters and all the polarizing that takes place in how politics are shaped,” he continued. 

Part of this polarization, Obama said, is due to the changing nature of the media. 

“I think [the media] gets distracted by shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on the big, tough choices and decisions that have to be made. And part of that is just the changing nature of technology,” he said. 

The president admitted that the White House was “way too slow in trying to redesign and reengineer” the structure of its Press Office to adapt to online and social media, and lamented the “Balkanization” of the media in recent years. 

“You’ve got folks who are constantly looking for facts that reinforce their existing point of view as opposed to having a common conversation,” Obama said. “I think one of the things that we have to think about, not just the president but all of us, is how do we join together in a common conversation about something other than the Super Bowl.”  

The only way everyday citizens can prevent this polarization, the president continued, is by getting involved and contacting local representatives. He went on to “guarantee” that “if people feel strongly about making sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon without us going to war and that is expressed to Congress, then people will believe in that.”

Other topics discussed in the 22-minute interview were the Iran deal, which Obama portrayed as the best achievable compromise, and progress made in the fields of healthcare and climate change. He also cited improvements in the Department of Veteran Affairs, the economy, and the efficiency of government in general. 

“What I do think has happened is a lot of the work that we did early starts bearing fruit later,” Obama said, giving the example of the Iran negotiations. “So it finally comes to fruition. But it represents a lot of work.”

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