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Obama criticizes media's saturated coverage of IS threat

Updated: 2015-12-22 09:52

Obama criticizes media's saturated coverage of IS threat

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the recent shootings in San Bernardino, after meeting with victims' families at Indian Springs High School in San Bernardino, California, December 18, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama criticized the US media's saturated coverage of recent terror attacks by Islamic State (IS) for whipping up the public's fear about the group's threat.

"Well, I think what's fair is that post-Paris you had a saturation of news about the horrible attack there. And ISIL combines viciousness with very savvy media operations," Obama said in an interview released Monday.

"And as a consequence, if you've been watching television for the last month, all you have been seeing, all you have been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you," Obama said in the wide-ranging interview taped Thursday with the NPR News.

ISIL is an acronym used by Obama for IS, which has claimed responsibility for the massive terror attacks on Nov 13 in Paris, France, that killed 130 people, and a shooting attack on Dec 2 in San Bernardino, California, which killed 14 people.

US investigators believe that the married couple in the San Bernardino shooting was radicalized by IS to launch the attack.

While admitting that the media has a right to decide how to cover the news of the terror attacks because it "is pursuing ratings," Obama cautioned that the IS actions "are designed to amplify their power and threat" through such news coverage.

"That helps them recruit, that adds in the twisted thoughts of some young person that they might want to carry out an action, that somehow they're part of a larger movement. And so I think that the American people absorb that, understandably are of concern," Obama said.

The US president added that though the US is facing a serious situation fighting IS, "what is important is for people to recognize that the power, the strength of the United States and its allies are not threatened by an organization like this."

He took the terror group al-Qaida as an example, saying that it could not do catastrophic damage to the US now although there are still lingering remnants.

Al-Qaida was responsible for the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington DC that killed more than 3,000 people. The US retaliated by launching a protracted war in Afghanistan to root out al-Qaida, whose mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed in a secret US military special operation in Pakistan in 2011.

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