Obama: 'Right-wing media' capitalizes on 'fear and resentment' of White population toward changing America

Obama mocked the GOP for focusing on critical race theory

Former President Obama said "certain right-wing media venues" are stoking "fear and resentment" among White Americans toward the increasingly diverse population. 

During an interview that aired Monday night, Obama told CNN's Anderson Cooper the country has not "fully reconciled with our history" and that it's a "hard thing to hear," especially for White Americans.

"You can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our forefathers … and it's also true that this terrible stuff happened and the vestiges of that linger and continue," Obama said. "And the truth is that when I try to tell the story, oftentimes my political opponents would deliberately not only block that story but try to exploit it for their own political gain."

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Obama cited the moment in 2009 when he accused the Cambridge Police of acting "stupidly" for arresting professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was entering his own home, and the tumult that took place after he made those remarks, which he said caused a bigger drop in polling among White voters than anything else during his presidency.

Former President Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on October 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. 

Former President Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on October 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

He went on to slam conservative media for "capitalizing" on what he described as the "fear" of White people toward changing demographics in the U.S.

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"I also think that there are certain right-wing media venues, for example, that monetize and capitalize on stoking the fear and resentment of a White population that is witnessing a changing America and seeing demographic changes, and do everything they can to give people a sense that their way of life is threatened and that people are trying to take advantage of them," Obama told Cooper. "And you're seeing it right now."

He continued: "You would think with all the public policy debates that are taking place right now, the Republican Party would be engaged in a significant debate about how are we going to deal with the economy, what are we going to do about climate change, what are we going to do about — lo and behold, the biggest single most important issue to them apparently right now is critical race theory."

"Who knew that was the threat to our republic?" he chuckled.