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Right-Wing Media Scramble To Recast Obama As Trump-Era Villain

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Right-Wing Media Scramble To Recast Obama As Trump-Era Villain

Obama, Trump

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

In science, nature abhors a vacuum. On cable news, Fox News abhors not having a Democratic villain. So the network is trying to bring back former President Barack Obama for the starring role.

Desperately searching for someone with a high profile to blame for the generally chaotic start of Trump’s controversy-filled administration, the conservative media are refitting the former Democratic president, who has kept a low profile since exiting the White House, as an all-powerful gremlin who’s to blame for Trump’s laundry list of political woes.

And now, of course, Trump has seized on the right-wing media theme. Brandishing little more than a right-wing radio rant that was typed up by Breitbart, Trump over the weekend made the wholly unsubstantiated, and nonsensical, claim that Obama ordered a wiretap at Trump Tower. Trump then demanded that Congress investigate the alleged abuses. (Surprise! Trump’s right-wing media allies support the call.)

The burgeoning blame game started last month with allegations that Obama was responsible for the big crowds protesting Trump’s presidency. (He wasn’t.) Since then, the allegations have widened, and now Obama is viewed as some sort of all-powerful troll who’s mysteriously capable of disrupting all factions of the Trump administration.

But let’s take a step back and understand what’s also going on: The right-wing media cannot survive without high-profile liberal villains who can be used to rile up the Republican masses. For the previous eight years, Obama was portrayed as an almost demonic figure bent on destroying the American way of life. And for the last two years of Obama’s term, Hillary Clinton received co-star status as America’s Villain on Fox News and in other right-wing media, which denounced her every move, real or imagined, as an outrage.

Being outraged, and especially being outraged about made-up things, has been a signature of the far-right press for years. It certainly defined the Obama era, blossoming into Fox News’ entire programming blueprint. Fox News posted huge profits each year by overreacting to imagined Obama slights. (Remember when Obama disrespected the Oval Office by putting his feet on his desk, watched too much sports television, was too mean to Republicans, and ordered too fancy a mustard on a burger?)

But with Republicans now controlling the White House, the Senate, the House, and possibly soon the Supreme Court, it’s getting hard for Republicans to focus on a single villain. (Can Trump’s failures really all be blamed on the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?)

So Fox News and friends have for weeks been trying to drag Obama out of retirement for the top role of Democratic scoundrel. Even though Obama has remained mostly silent since Trump was sworn in, he has been denounced as a devilish figure and used to rile the GOP base.

Today, from Fox News to the National Enquirer, from Alex Jones to Rush Limbaugh, the rallying cry is emerging: Barack Obama is an omnipotent force who’s obstructing and dooming Trump’s agenda.

Here was New York Post writer Paul Sperry frantically sounding the Obama alarms on Alex Jones’ conspiratorial radio show, according to a transcript from the Austin American-Statesman (emphasis added):

“Forget about Hillary, Hillary’s gone. His main concern right now is Obama. I mean the guy’s set up a bunker down the street from the White House..He’s got a mansion. He’s got an office. OFA, the Obama Foundation he’s setting up. He’s got his own chief of staff, press secretary. He’s setting up his own shadow White House, just within two miles of the White House .. This is something on the order of a civil war here.”

Jones was a believer: “And I agree with you, at a gut level I am more concerned about this than anything I’ve seen in 20 years on air.”

The right-wing Daily Mail has also been issuing the warning, insisting that “Obama’s goal is to oust Trump from the presidency either by forcing his resignation or through his impeachment” and that Obama’s new Washington, D.C., home was being turned “into the nerve center of the mounting insurgency against his successor.”

Politically, why the urgent need from the Trump loyalists in the press to bring back Obama, and his allegedly conniving cohorts, just weeks after he left office? Because there has to be an explanation for why Trump and his administration have suffered such a chaotic first few weeks, why they have sparked so many controversies and experienced so many early losses. There must be an explanation for why Obamacare hasn’t been repealed, why the White House travel ban was overturned by the courts, and why Trump is so deeply unpopular.

Yes, the White House has declared war on the press, but that blame game doesn’t really address Trump’s endless political setbacks. So the default explanation has become “It’s Obama’s fault.” That, and his all-powerful “shadow government.” (He’s kinda like George Soros, but with Secret Service protection.)

By elevating the supposed looming, off-stage threat of Obama, the right-wing media also allow Trump to play the perpetual victim.

What’s funny is that while Obama has remained mostly mum about his successor, it was former Republican president George W. Bush who made headlines last week when he seemed to voice concerns about Trump’s presidency.

From The New York Times:

“Former President George W. Bush implicitly criticized President Trump on Monday, taking issue with his approach to immigration and the news media, and suggested that any ties between the new president’s team and Russia should be investigated.”

Today, there’s no evidence to support right-wing media claims that Obama has turned his home into an anti-Trump “nerve center,” or that he’s marshaling the forces of his “shadow government” to overthrow the administration. But there is plenty of proof that Obama’s living rent-free inside the heads of Fox News pundits.

IMAGE: Barack Obama meets with Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque



  1. dbtheonly March 7, 2017

    Very well put.

    If I might suggest, the RWMO does hate well. They oppose magnificently. What they lack is any sort of positive program, or plan to implement any actions. Trump and his wall is at least something he’s going to do, as opposed to stop, repeal, reduce, end.

    Goldstein must always be with us. Whether you call him Pelosi, Obama, Clinton, or whoever, he must always escape capture. Because without the hate the RWMO is nothing.

  2. FireBaron March 7, 2017

    So you mean the fact that we have the most unqualified individual in the history of the Presidency occupying the Oval Office, being surrounded by people who have either taken advantage of or opposed the very government offices they are now in charge of doesn’t mean a thing?
    Sheesh! Next thing you know, they’ll be blaming FDR for allowing illegal aliens to stay in the US (at least until they find out that Teflon Donnie’s mother came into and stayed in the US without benefit of a visa)!

  3. pics fixer March 7, 2017

    Hay, if Pres. Trump is never to blame because of his spotless record as the worlds greatest businessmen then it must be the fault of the past President! Also the fact that he was a Blackman is proof of his evil ways. Poor Mr. Trump. He was dealt a bad hand by following an evil man who has his minions all over the place ruining the great, hell, huge presidency of the righteous D. Trump. We, the unwashed, just don’t get it. In all honesty, I feel for the guy.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker March 7, 2017

    The only reason Trump and the Republicans have burrs up their butts about Obama is because they know on a worldwide basis, President Obama has something Trump will NEVER have: RESPECT.

    First of all, a president is an elected official. Not an employer who hires and fires American taxpayers on their tax dollars.

    To show the stupidity of the hick Republicans in their truest Plantation mentalities, they believe all they had to do was rig an election and they could do whatever they please. Trump is only a White House sleeper they use to best advantage.

    The GOP is seething because Americans are protesting their bossy, bullying attitudes on our tax dollars. So all they have left in their pathetic bags of tricks now is to build up more hatred for Obama.

    The stupid part of that is it only plays to their dim witted right wingers. Not the average Main Street American ready to march on their plantations and drag them out of their cushy cushy political mansions.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker March 7, 2017

    In my opinion, the sudden glut of right wing BS in media today can be attributed to fake news Putin has created all over Europe. How easy is it to “plant” fake news given the access to social media?

    But, when a president of the U.S. tweets an accusation he knows the only proof he has comes from Putin’s hackers and tweets it at 6 in the morning as if his only job is to spend his time scouring social media to play King of Reactionary Tweets, you know the guy is mentally off the beam.

  6. Michael Allen March 7, 2017

    Obama is really a Kenyan tribal shaman with magical powers.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 7, 2017

      What amusing and utter nonsense. There—you got one point for a response to your idiotic post from me. Now, please run along and join the other junior high fellows.

    2. ray March 7, 2017

      hey micky 45 belongs to you ,you dummys own him.

      1. idamag March 7, 2017

        Trump is who he is. Don’t buy a used car from him.

    3. Dapper Dan March 7, 2017

      Coooooool can he turn Trump into a frog ?????

    4. FT66 March 7, 2017

      No one forced you to pick Trump. You had 17 candidates and you picked up the wrong horse. Place the blames on your own wrong decisions and not on others.

  7. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 7, 2017

    There is some sort of symbiotic relationship that connects Trump, the alt-right, Right Wing media outlets, and the GOP. Whenever either one is repulsed, it triggers the others to respond to defend the affected partner. Each individual organism in this hellish glob has a specialized function to perform, and thus this giant parasitic entity requires all elements to be functioning well, lest the entire organism suffer a breakdown.
    There may be some biochemical/spiritual linkage at play here, each aspect having an effect on the other in a biofeedback manner.

    This current set of political/social circumstances may prove invaluable as a key to understanding the effects of certain social stimuli to produce some yet unspecified group irrationality complex—perhaps this all may inspire a paper on this phenomenon worthy of peer review and printing in the journals “NATURE”, and/or “American Psychologist”.

  8. LCR78 March 7, 2017

    Fox News, Breitbart, and Lambaugh among others have only themselves to blame for the mess that Trump is in. They created created the conspiracy and fake news business. It has now come home to roost in the form of a feckless, tantrum throwing president.

    1. idamag March 7, 2017


  9. Stuart March 7, 2017

    Trumpistas live in a fact-free world, but the courts don’t. The instant Trumpistas enter a courtroom, it all falls apart. So, I look to the courts to save us.

  10. idamag March 7, 2017

    I truly wish the people, in my country, would discard propaganda and start demanding honest news. There were over 3000 newspapers in nazi Germany and all of them were compelled to print what was favorable to the party. The main paper was like Breitbart. It was called Der Sturmer. The active nazi party, in this country uses that same name. The papers, in nazi Germany stirred up hate and fear in those that were gullible. Since most of you have met trump supporters, you probably see how they are the gullible. The newspapers can go two ways. They can suddenly realize what they had been doing and get some real investigative journalism out there. Or, they can pander to trump in order to culture favor.

    1. itsfun March 8, 2017

      Would you call CNN and MSNBC honest news?

      1. FireBaron March 8, 2017

        Moreso than Faux. They admitted in their last FCC filing that they are NOT a news outlet but an entertainment one.

        1. itsfun March 8, 2017

          FOX does have shows I would consider entertainment like O’Reily, Hannity and others. The morning show is all news and has debates from both sides of an issue and is true and actual news. MSNBC and CNN act like outlets for the Democrat Party.

  11. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 7, 2017

    The American education system is in need of a major overhaul if many of our current generation of youth are to escape the damaged mental faculties so evident in the employ of Right Wing media. And Betsy DeVos is quite capable of damaging minds with her odd notions.

    The article reminds me of Elijah Muhammad, and his influence in many circles based on demonizing anyone whose outer coloration is white. So irrational and mentally disturbed had Elijah become, that he attributed near mythical powers to the “White Race”, thus providing a crutch for the minds of many black Americans who had been indoctrinated with Racial Theories long before Elijah arrived on the scene as Elijah Poole from Georgia.
    In such an indoctrination, I found that having a conversation with damaged minds such as the followers of him, and currently those who follow Farrakhan and the N.O.I., was pointless, so deluded by this myth had become.

    FOX, Breitbart, etc., have worked a similar indoctrination on those in FOX Nation, and have corrupted their own minds in the process of dispensing toxic and patently false messages. The effects may be irreversible.

  12. PrecipitousDrop March 7, 2017

    So the GOP is elevating Obama to epic super-villain status?
    Are they having a hard time thinking of anyone worse than Trump?

  13. tom March 8, 2017

    The most dangerous thing of all is AM talk radio. These hosts do this for no other reason but money, and are good at brainwashing millions of ignorant people to believe whatever they say. People spend a lot of time in their cars, and step out of them completely brainwashed by people with no motive except money

  14. secondclassguy March 8, 2017

    The most dangerous thing of all is AM talk radio. These hosts do this for no other reason but money, and are good at brainwashing millions of ignorant people to believe whatever they say. People spend a lot of time in their cars, and step out of them completely brainwashed by people with no motive except money

  15. Lynda Groom March 8, 2017

    Of course they have to try and paint Obama as the evil doer. The fact that their man in White House is running a sinking ship full of self-inflicted and perhaps fatal wounds freightens the hell of the far right. They’ve finally got the power bases they wanted and still can’t get anything done. Surely that has to be fault of someone else….mostly Obama for sure. LMFAO at the ineptitude.

  16. Oddworld March 8, 2017

    It should not come as a shock to anyone that this is the M.O. of the Republican party.
    As the article correctly pointed out, the Repubs have been doing this for years. Attacking is all they have in their arsenal. They lack any good ideas to move the country forward. They are woefully out of touch with 21st century society and all this is due to the fact that they don’t have any interest outside of there own self interest. Hell, they can’t even tell a good lie, they claim they are the keepers of small government and fiscal responsibility while wanting to beef up security, the military and conduct more operations over seas. All they are (Trump included) is a bunch of con-men who have done a masterful of fooling a large portion of gullible Americans. To those who keep these people in power, they’re laughing at you and while you’re being laughed at you’re taking the rest of us down with your pathetic selves.


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