Obama calls on media to scrutinize Trump; Congress to clamp down on shell companies | News | DW | 06.05.2016
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Obama calls on media to scrutinize Trump; Congress to clamp down on shell companies

The US president is concerned that tawdry headlines and shallow reporting have replaced serious journalism. On another note, he challenged Congress to pass legislation that would clamp down on anonymous shell companies.

On Friday, Barack Obama urged the media and the public to carefully scrutinize the words and records of all potential presidential candidates.

But, in adding that the presidency is not "entertainment" or "a reality show," Obama made clear that his primary concern was how the media were covering the candidacy of the presumptive republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign victory rally, surrounded by his family.

Trump, the presumptive GOP candidate for US president

Obama said substantive reporting and serious analysis of policy positions was taking a back-seat to reporting on the titillating, the tawdry and Trump's tweets.

"What I'm concerned about is the degree to which reporting and information starts emphasizing the spectacle and the circus. Because that's not something we can afford," Obama said during a White House press briefing. "The American people, they've got good judgment, they've got good instincts - as long as they get good information."

The billionaire real estate mogul and former reality television star, has referred to women as "dogs" and "fat pigs;" said Mexico was sending drugs, crime and rapists into the the United S; and called for blocking all Muslims from entering the country.

Trump also raised eyebrows recently when he said he would reconsider America's role in NATO, which Republicans and Democrats alike have considered the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security since shortly after the end of World War II.

"It's important for us to take seriously the statements he's made in the past," Obama said. "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," Obama said. "This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States."

Calls for action against shell companies

On another note, the president urged Congress to quickly pass a new bill that would end the use of anonymous shell companies, which are often used by corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying taxes, in the US.

Police officers stand guard next to a company list showing the Mossack Fonseca law firm outside their office in Panama City

HQ of the Mossack Fonseca law firm, at the center of the 'Panama Papers' scandal

"Only Congress can fully close the loopholes that wealthy individuals and powerful corporations all too often take advantage of," Obama said, "often at the expense of middle-class families."

He cited the recent revelations surrounding the Panama Papers and the international effort that is needed to clamp on tax avoidance.

"In recent months, we've seen just how big a problem corruption and tax evasion have become around the globe," Obama said.

"We saw what happened with the release of the Panama Papers," he said. "And we've seen the degree to which both legal practices of tax avoidance, that are still unfair and bad for the economy, as well as illegal practices that in some cases involve nefarious activities, continue to exist and to spread."

bik/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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