Former Divider in Chief Obama Tries to Politicize Sub Tragedy, Calls out 'Obscene Inequality' of News Coverage

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Barack Obama never came across an event that he couldn’t politicize; the recent implosion of the submersible Titan on a dive to explore the wreck of the Titanic—which left five people presumed dead—is no exception.

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As my colleague Mike Miller reported, the former president appeared on a CNN special titled “Obama & Amanpour” Thursday to blame “right-wing” media for making Americans “fearful of each other.”

But he wasn’t done; he also decided to blame the media for excessive coverage of the sub accident while not devoting equal time to another tragedy, the story of a “migrant boat” that sank off the coast of Greece last week. An unknown number of people are presumed dead, but the count could reach 600.

Obama:

Our democracy is not going to be healthy with the levels of inequality that we’ve seen generated from globalization, automation, the decline in unions. Obscene inequality.

You think about news of the day. Generally, we’re not talking about news of the day, but right now we have 24 hour coverage – and I understand it – of this submarine, this submersible that tragically right now is lost at the bottom of the sea.

He goes on to shame those who reported on or were interested in the Titan but didn’t pay the same attention to the boat story:

At the same time, right here, just off the coast of Greece, we had 700 people dead [unconfirmed and likely a high estimate]. 700 migrants who were apparently being smuggled into here and it’s made news but it’s not dominating in the same way and in some ways it’s indicative of the degree to which peoples’ life chances have grown so disparate.

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He’s right that the ship sinking in the Mediterranean is truly awful, but why does he have to bring the poor deceased souls of the Titan into the conversation? Their bodies haven’t even been recovered (and may never be), and he’s already politicizing their deaths.

Furthermore, it’s an unfortunate fact that boats full of people fleeing their countries and sinking into the Mediterranean are an altogether too-common occurrence. However, it’s not a problem that America is in a position to solve—we can’t even control our own borders, much less those of other countries halfway around the world.

Obama also appeared in front of an audience at a Stavros Niarchos Foundation event in Athens, Greece, earlier in the day:

You think about what’s happening this week. There is a potential tragedy unfolding with the submarine that is getting, you know, minute-to-minute, coverage, all around the world. And you know it’s understandable, because we all want and pray that those folks are rescued.

But the fact that that’s got so much more attention than 700 people who sank. That’s an untenable situation.

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There’s been no shortage of extremely nasty social media commentary about the sub’s occupants—“white rich dudes suck, so they deserved it” seems to be a common refrain.

(See: The Tragic Story of the Titan Submersible Convinced People to Show Their True Colors)

Others have also (fairly) pointed out that the sub operators cut corners on safety, but one despicable headline from the New Republic read, “OceanGate CEO Missing in Titanic Sub Had History of Donating to GOP Candidates.” What in the absolute hell do his political donations have to do with the disaster?

Obama is right to call attention to the terrible, heart-wrenching drownings off the coast of Greece, but to insert himself into the Titan conversation and opine that the news coverage is “untenable”—a danger to democracy, I presume—just smacks of opportunism. And division. Both of which are his specialties.

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