President Obama challenges reporters to scrutinize Donald Trump's policies and record

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
May 06, 2016 02:40 PM
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In his first public words on Donald Trump becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee earlier this week, President Obama delivered a sober – icy, even – warning to the White House press corps and the American people in general.

“I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show,” Obama told reporters in the White House press briefing room on Friday.

“This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.”

Obama, who has expressed exasperation before about the news media focusing on trivial matters, told the press corps seated before him that he’d be watching as the general election unfolds.

“The one thing that I’m going to really be looking for over the next six months is that the American people are effectively informed about where candidates stand on the issues, what they believe, making sure that their numbers add up, making sure that their policies have been vetted and making sure that candidates are held to what they’ve said in the past.

Obama said that applies to Trump as much as to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, whose battle for their party’s nomination rages on.

With Trump already turning to general-election strategies, Obama said, “What I’m concerned about is the degree to which reporting and information starts emphasizing the spectacle and the circus. Because that’s something we cannot afford.”

As if on (mis-)cue, the next reporter asked Obama about Trump’s controversial Cinco de Mayo Tweet featuring the taco bowl the billionaire businessman enjoyed at his desk yesterday.

With a bit of a sigh and a definite snicker, Obama replied:

“I have no thoughts on Mr. Trump’s Tweets. As a general rule, I don’t pay attention to Mr. Trump’s Tweets. And I think that will be true, I think for the next six months, so you can just file that one.”