Multiple sources not authorized to speak for the president have reportedly been saying that President Barack Obama has been mulling over the idea of a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company to boot.
When Mic contacted the White House for a comment on the matter, communications director Jen Psaki said in a statement, “While the president will remain actively engaged in inspiring young people and he is interested in the changing ways people consume information, he has no plans to get into the media business after he leaves office.”
When “Rolling Stone” asked President Obama about his post-presidential plans, he reportedly said that he would start “organizing [his] presidential center,” where a subject of immense focus would be, “How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media so that we can make a persuasive case across the country?”
Right up until Election Day, almost everyone had predicted a Hillary Clinton win. Because of this, there was speculation centered on the post-election plans of current President-elect Donald Trump. Some speculated that he would create a “Trump TV” network, possibly web based or on cable. According to the Financial Times, Trump’s son-in-law, media powerhouse Jared Kushner, had approached a media investor about the possibility of funding a potential network. Had he lost and started this network, he would have mirrored Al Gore after the 2000 presidential election. Gore launched Current TV, a cable news network targeted at millennials, which he eventually sold to Al Jazeera in 2013, reportedly for $500 million.
It would be an interesting flip of the script for the current president to do what the next president possibly planned to do. Though no one can say with any certainty that “Obama TV” is in the works, over the course of his presidency, Obama routinely used social media creatively. He produced his own short (and often comedic) videos, some featuring vice president Joe Biden, which were posted directly to all of his social media accounts.
Obama has denounced the fake-news phenomenon recently, arguing that the rise of speculation and conspiracy theories, as well as the easy dissemination of faux news, has made it difficult to differentiate facts from falsities.
Recently, Obama spoke to “Rolling Stone” about what he feels are the ills of the media and said he wants to have a hand at remedying those ills. The New Yorker reported that the president was intrigued by a story from BuzzFeed that told the tale of over 100 Trump-supporting websites expelling fake news, which was headquartered in a small town in Macedonia. President Obama worried about how “an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll.”
Though Obama (and his wife Michelle) has been open about being ready to leave the White House, the president also said he would not keep mum about his successor, Donald Trump, if need be. “If there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle or go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes,” Obama said.