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Obama: I handled the Russian hacks properly. It’s the media that didn’t.

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

When President Obama was asked at his year-end press conference Friday about a “perception” that he was “letting President Putin get away with interfering with the US election,” he responded with a condemnation of the media’s coverage of Democrats’ leaked emails.

Obama argued that once his administration had “clarity and certainty about what in fact had happened, we publicly announced that Russia had hacked into the DNC” during the campaign — making sure the public was informed of Russia’s culpability before the election.

But he argued that complaints from the media that he should have done more fall short of the mark — and neglected media’s own role in amplifying the damage to Clinton. “The truth is that there was nobody here who didn’t have some sense about what kind of effect it might have,” Obama said. “I’m finding it a little curious that everybody’s suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was disadvantaging Hillary Clinton — because you guys wrote about it every day! Every single week!”

As his voice dripped with disdain, Obama said the press covered “every little juicy tidbit of political gossip. Including John Podesta’s risotto recipe. This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage. So I do think it’s worth us reflecting how it is that a presidential election of such importance, of such moment, with so many big issues at stake and such a contrast between the candidates, came to be dominated by a bunch of these leaks.”

The president further argued that one of the most worrying parts about the operation was that it worked like a charm despite being so simple:

This was not some elaborate complicated espionage scheme. They hacked into some Democratic party emails that contained pretty routine stuff, some of it embarrassing or uncomfortable, because I suspect that if any of us got our emails hacked into, there might be some things that we wouldn’t want suddenly appearing on the front page of a newspaper or telecast even if there wasn’t anything particularly illegal or controversial about it. And then it just took off. And that concerns me. And it should concern all of us.

Later on, Obama made a further complaint about the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton. “I don’t think she was treated fairly during the election. I think the coverage of her and the issues was troubling,” he said.

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