Obama makes veiled attack on Trump: 'Watching TV or reading social media is not helpful'

Andrew Buncombe
Former president spoke in California while Donald Trump was fundraising in state: Splunk

Barack Obama has taken a rare, thinly veiled poke at his predecessor, suggesting it was unwise for any president to spend too much time watching television or reading social media.

While not referring to Donald Trump by name, Mr Obama told an audience in San Francisco, it was very difficult to perfect a decision-making process in the White House.

“Make sure you have a team with a diversity of opinion sitting around you,” he said, according to CNBC. “The other thing that’s helpful is not watching TV or reading social media. Those are two things I would advise, if you’re our president, not to do.

He added: “It creates a lot of noise and clouds your judgment.”

While Mr Obama was the first sitting president to make use of social media, he did so sparingly. By contrast, Mr Trump, who has 64.5m Twitter followers, uses it as a way to communicate directly with his supporters.

He also frequently tweets things that are deeply controversial, and has used the platform to fire several members of his administration. The president is also known to be an avid watcher of television, in particular Fox News.

Mr Obama, who was speaking at a conference organised by the software and technology company Splunk, said it was important for presidents to surround themselves not simply by people who shared the same view of them, something Mr Trump is known to do. He recently fired national security advisor John Bolton, as the two fell out over how to deal with issues such as Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.


Barack Obama wears tan suit by tailor Georges de Paris at White House briefing in 2014

“Then what you have to do is create a process where you have confidence that whatever data is out there has been sifted and sorted,” he said, as Mr Trump was also in California, on a fundraising trip.

”What it does mean is that if you are susceptible to worrying about what are the polls saying or what might this person say about this topic or you start mistaking the intensity of the passion of a very small subset of people with a broader sense about your country or people who know something about the topic, that will sway your decision-making in an unhealthy way.”

On the issue of climate change, Mr Obama said it was the largest priority for the world.

“There are a handful of issues that if we don’t get right we have real problems,” Mr Obama said. “Climate change is a big problem.”

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