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Web-savvy Obama 'rarely' reads blogs, says they're misleading
Jeremy Gantz
Published: Sunday March 8, 2009


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Although he owes his current job in part to the Internet's unique networking and communications tools – and his campaign's unprecedented ability to raise money online – President Obama "rarely" reads blogs because he considers some of them misleading and simplistic.

The comment, made during a wide-ranging New York Times interview aboard Air Force One, may surprise those who follow WhiteHouse.gov's own blog or those who followed his transition team's blog.

Asked about his news consumption habits at the end of the interview, during which he acknowledged that the United States is not winning the war in Afghanistan, Obama said he "rarely reads blogs," but reads newspapers – in their paper form – and weekly news magazines.

"[P]art of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time looking at blogs is because if you haven’t looked at it very carefully then you may be under the impression that somehow there’s a clean answer one way or another – well, you just nationalize all the banks, or you just leave them alone and they’ll be fine, or this or that or the other," Obama said. "The truth is this is a very complex set of problems and bad decisions can result in huge taxpayer expenditures and poor results."

Although bloggers at prominent progressive websites such as Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo are likely annoyed by his remarks, Obama may have a good excuse as to why he isn't keeping tabs on their posts: He's busy reading government briefings.

A full transcript of the interview can be found here.

Despite the Obama campaign's web-savvy skills, WhiteHouse.gov – which also has its own YouTube channel – has run into a few snags since January's inauguration. The website "has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve," the Washington Post reported Monday. Obama would like to send out mass updates via email and text messages, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so, according to the newspaper.

Since his election in November, it's become a near cliche to note that Obama has harnessed the Internet to speak directly to Americans just as Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio and John F. Kennedy utilized television. Clearly, Obama – famously addicted to his web-enabled BlackBerry – has used and will continue to use the Internet to reach an increasingly wired nation.

What's less clear, however, is how the Internet is influencing Obama's governing decisions. If his lack of respect for blogs is any indication, the president's use of the Internet would appear to be more about transmitting his own messages than receiving others'. He may have been the first president to ask an online reporter a question when he called on the Huffington Post's Sam Stein in early February, but that doesn't mean he's visiting the web-only news and opinion site to read what Stein wrote.


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