Obama considering post-presidential digital media career, sources say



President Barack Obama has been discussing a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company, according to multiple sources who spoke on background because they were not authorized to speak for the president.

Obama considers media to be a central focus of his next chapter, these sources say, though exactly what form that will take — a show streaming on Netflix, a web series on a comedy site or something else — remains unclear. Obama has gone so far as to discuss launching his own media company, according to one source with knowledge of the matter, although he has reportedly cooled on the idea of late.

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36 PHOTOS
The best moments and photos from President Obama's last year
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The best moments and photos from President Obama's last year

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. In his final State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality.

(Photo by Evan Vucci - Pool/Getty Images)

Cuban President Raul Castro (R) raises US President Barack Obama's hand during a joint press conference at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016. Cuba's Communist President Raul Castro on Monday stood next to Barack Obama and hailed his opposition to a long-standing economic 'blockade,' but said it would need to end before ties are fully normalized.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama touches the coffin of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres after speaking during his funeral at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl national cemetery on September 30, 2016.

(ABIR SULTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama arrives to speak during a closing session at the Nuclear Security Summit April 1, 2016 in Washington, D.C. After a spate of terrorist attacks from Europe to Africa, Obama is rallying international support during the summit for an effort to keep Islamic State and similar groups from obtaining nuclear material and other weapons of mass destruction.

(Photo By Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images)

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama wait for leaders to arrive for the Nordic state dinner on the North Portico at the White House, May 13, 2016, in Washington, DC. Leaders from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland were invited to the White House for the U.S.-Nordic leaders summit.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama wears a traditional blanket and hat given to him during the 2016 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, September 26, 2016.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama arrives with US first lady Michelle Obama to speak during a reception to mark Black History Month in the East Room of the White House February 18, 2016 in Washington, DC.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama holds a baby during a State Arrival ceremony for Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, August 2, 2016.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hugs U.S. President Barack Obama as she arrives onstage at the end of his speech on the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., July 27, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jim Young)

U.S. President Barack Obama drinks a glass of filtered water from Flint, a city struggling with the effects of lead-poisoned drinking water, as he delivers remarks at North Western, in Flint, Michigan May 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the 2016 graduating class at High Point Solutions Stadium during Rutgers University's 250th commencement exercises, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, May 15, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

U.S. President Barack Obama blows bubbles during the 2016 White House Science Fair in Washington, April 13, 2016. The bubble maker was made on a 3D printer by Jacob Leggette, 9, of Baltimore, Maryland.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, November 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

U.S. President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (L) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 22, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulates his daughter Malia on her birthday during the Independence Day celebration at the White House in Washington U.S., July 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) hugs with atomic bomb survivor Shigeaki Mori as he visits Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama serve Thanksgiving dinner to residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) in Washington, U.S., November 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Malia Obama's hair flies into the air as a cold wind hits her and U.S. President Barack Obama while descending the steps of Air Force One upon their arrival at O'Hare Airport in Chicago April 7, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

First lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama perform a reading of the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" for children gathered for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, March 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

US President Barack Obama and Republican President-elect Donald Trump shake hands during a transition planning meeting in the Oval Office at the White House on November 10, 2016 in Washington,DC.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama speaks as he attends a campaign rally in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the University of Central Florida on October 28, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Election day for the presidential candidates is 10 days away.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Cuban President Raul Castro talk before the start of an exhibition game between the Cuban national team and the Major League Baseball team Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Estado Latinoamericano March 22, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. This is the first time a sitting president has visited Cuba in 88 years.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, September 5, 2016.

(Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin/via REUTERS)

(L-R) Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands while posing for the family photo at the North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

With tears running down his cheeks, U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and about his efforts to increase federal gun control in the East Room of the White House January 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. Without approval from Congress, Obama is sidestepping the legislative process with executive actions to expand background checks for some firearm purchases and step up federal enforcement of existing gun laws.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama reacts after pardoning the National Thanksgiving turkey during the 69th annual presentation of the turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S. November 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. President Barack Obama greets supporters at a rally for Hillary Clinton's campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada October 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

US President Barack Obama votes early at the Cook County Office Building in Chicago, Illinois, October 7, 2016. Obama cast an early ballot on Friday, highlighting a Democratic drive to get voters to the polls even before November 8. During an unannounced visit, Obama stood before a voting machine at the Chicago Board of Elections office, punched in his choice and smirked when asked who he had voted for.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama plays with a baby after speaking at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, November 4, 2016, during a Hillary for America campaign event.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Lawmakers watch as US President Barack Obama signs H.R. 2576, the 'Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act at the White House campus June 22, 2016 in Washington, DC.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park, California, U.S., June 18, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

U.S. President Barack Obama tries virtual reality glasses and he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel tour Hanover Messe Trade Fair in Hanover, Germany April 25, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (L) enter the Oval Office after Obama spoke about the election results that saw Donald Trump become President-elect from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs his wife Michelle as Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife Jill look on after the President delivered a farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017.

(REUTERS/John Gress)

U.S. President Barack Obama says "Obama out!" at the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner in Washington, U.S., April 30, 2016.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

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When contacted for comment, White House communications director Jen Psaki told Mic in a statement, "While the president will remain actively engaged in inspiring young people and he is interested in the changing ways people consume information, he has no plans to get into the media business after he leaves office."

According to another source, Obama met privately with Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in Lima, Peru, on the sidelines of the recent APEC summit to discuss the matter.

That it's Obama who is mulling a media career marks an intriguing twist for an election year in which President-elect Donald Trump's rumored television plans have become a subject of debate. Prior to Election Day, which nearly every pollster had Hillary Clinton winning, much speculation centered on Trump's post-election plans. Reports suggested he would launch a "Trump TV" network of his own, either online or on cable. According to the Financial Times, Trump's son-in-law, media baron Jared Kushner, had approached a media investor about possibly funding such a network. At the time, the Trump campaign denied that any such network was in the works (though Trump experimented with live Facebook video offerings in the campaign's closing days).

So is Obama gearing up to launch "Obama TV"? That much remains unclear, but doing so wouldn't be inconsistent with his track record. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has made a point of using social media and engaging with digital outlets in creative ways — including producing his own short-form web videos, which get posted directly to his social media accounts.

When Rolling Stone asked the president about his future plans, Obama said he would begin "organizing my presidential center," where a top subject would be, "How do we rethink our storytelling, the messaging and the use of technology and digital media, so that we can make a persuasive case across the country?"

43 PHOTOS
44 iconic photos of Barack Obama's presidency
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44 iconic photos of Barack Obama's presidency

Barack Obama takes a moment to reflect before walking on stage to take the oath of office.

Photo Credit: The White House

Barack Obama and the First Lady share a tender moment during the Inaugural Ball on Jan. 20, 2009. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Obama enters the Oval Office on the first day of his presidency. 

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama reads a letter left in his desk by George W. Bush, a White House tradition welcoming the new President. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Obama tours the grounds of his new home for the next 8 years. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in his third week as president.

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama settles in for his first flight aboard Air Force One. 

Photo Credit: The White House

The 44th President of the United States gives his first State of the Union address on February 24, 2009. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Mr. & Mrs. Obama walk hand in hand towards the helicopter that will take them on their first trip to Camp David. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Michelle Obama shakes hands with Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham palace during their trip for the G20 summit.

Photo Credit: The White House

POTUS shows some love for his troops while visiting Camp Victory in Iraq on April 7, 2009. 

Photo Credit: The White House

The Obamas share a laugh while eating a snack after an event. 

Photo Credit: The White House 

Obama and Biden take in some fresh air with some golf on the White House green.

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama explores the Pyramids of Giza during a trip to Egypt on June 4, 2009. 

Photo Credit: The White House

POTUS walks through his first G8 Summit in Italy. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Barack Obama takes in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama enjoys himself during an interview with David Letterman on Sept 21, 2009. 

Photo Credit: The White House

The Obama's welcome children to enjoy Halloween fun at the White House. 

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama and the First Lady take their first portrait in front of the official White House Christmas tree. 

Obama sits in his personalized chair during a meeting. 

Photo Credit: The White House

The Obama's bust a move during the Governors' Ball. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Obama takes a moment to catch up on some important documents while on the go. 

Photo credit: The White House

The President takes calls at all hours leading up to the vote on healthcare reform.

Photo credit: The White House

Obama and Biden applaud the passing of the Affordable Care Act.

Photo Credit: The White House

White House Photographer Pete Souza had this to say about capturing this photo: "The sun was setting as the Presidential motorcade arrived back at Miami International Airport. I ran to get in front of Air Force One so I could use the beautiful sky as the background when the President boarded the plane."

Photo Credit: The White House

The Obamas lip-sync to a group of a cappella singers during a holiday visit. 

Photo Credit: The White House

A rare moment in the Situation Room of the White House.

Photo Credit: The White House

The President greets soldiers after a surprise all night flight to Afghanistan. 

Photo Credit: The White House

The Obama family admires Rio's infamous Christ the Redeemer statue while In Brazil on March 20, 2011. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Barack Obama approaches the Marine One helicopter. 

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama watches the screen like a hawk during the real time mission to capture Osama bin Laden.

Photo Credit: The White House

The White House photographer Pete Souza writes "The President was ready to announce the news about the mission against Osama bin Laden and was putting the finishing touches on his statement in the Outer Oval Office. As he did so, the networks broke in with bulletins confirming that bin Laden had been killed and a photograph of him appeared on the television screen in the background near the Vice President and Press Secretary Jay Carney."

Photo Credit: The White House

Souza says "One of the most memorable moments of the year was when the President hugged Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as he walked onto the floor of the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol to deliver his annual State of the Union address."

Photo Credit: The White House

Pete Souza reveals an interesting fact about this photo: "The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day."

Photo Credit: The White House

Basketball fans cheer for the Obamas as they kiss for the kiss cam. 

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama serenades Michelle on her birthday. 

Photo Credit: Pete Souza

President Obama sits for a 3D portrait at the Smithsonian.

Photo Credit: The White House

President Obama takes a detour after the NATO summit to visit Stonehenge. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Barack Obama can't keep a straight face while recording a Holiday video at the White House. 

Photo Credit: The White House

Mr. President speaks at the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil-rights marches.

Photo Credit: The White House

President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shake hands during the Summit of the Americas at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama on  April 11, 2015.

Photo Credit: The White House

U.S. President Barack Obama collects the folio holding the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 after signing it into law in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, November 2, 2015.

Phto credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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In recent days — even before Trump's surprising victory — Obama also mused openly about what he views as the dangerous state of media and his desire to play a role in fixing it. According to the New Yorker, Obama apparently obsessed over a BuzzFeed story that documented how more than 100 pro-Trump websites peddling fake news reports had originated in one small Macedonian town. The president worried aloud that the way stories are displayed on various platforms "means everything is true and nothing is true" and that "an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers' payroll."

Obama has been outspoken in recent days about the faux news phenomenon, arguing that the rise of conspiracy theories and the easy propagation of fake stories has made it difficult to establish basic facts to frame a debate. "And now we just don't have that," he told New Yorker editor David Remnick.

If Obama is indeed considering a major post-election media play, it also wouldn't be without precedent for those near the White House. After the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore launched Current TV, a cable news network targeted at a millennial audience, which he ended up selling to Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million in 2013. But as Gore's experience showed, building a new independent media property is challenging. Although he hoped Current TV would be a transformational network appealing directly to young viewers and serving as an ideological balance to Fox News and MSNBC, it failed to gain much traction. As Gore learned, building audience around substantive content, blending news and entertainment and monetizing fact-based and deep investigative reporting are all easier said than done.

Depending on what form it takes, a hard dive into media could also put Obama at odds with presidential precedent. For decades, former presidents have followed a tradition of remaining quiet about their successors in public. During his recent visit to Peru, Obama said he would uphold that convention after leaving office, but also hinted he might speak out when he feels necessary. "If there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle or go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think that it's necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I'll examine it when it comes," Obama told reporters.

17 PHOTOS
Heartwarming photos of President Obama and Chancellor Merkel's friendship
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Heartwarming photos of President Obama and Chancellor Merkel's friendship
HANOVER, GERMANY - APRIL 25: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) (L) look at a satellite at the Kentucky stand at the Hannover Messe industrial trade fair on April 25, 2016 in Hanover, Germany. This is likely Obama's last trip to Germany as U.S. president. The Hannover Messe is the world's largest industrial trade fair. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Barack Obama and Angela Merkel met in an official capacity for one last time in Germany last week after Donald Trump won the US election.

(Photo vi REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

The pair formed a close bond during Obama's eight-year presidency. In this image, the German Chancellor clearly has a lot to say to her US counterpart during the G7 meeting overlooking the Alps in June 2015.

(Photo via REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/Pool)

Even when meetings may be overshadowed by serious topics, Merkel and Obama have found time to have fun.

(Photo via REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)

World leaders love virtual reality just as much as the rest of us. During a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, they got the opportunity to try out a VR headset — to their obvious amusement.

(Photo via REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Merkel is one of the few leaders left among the US's closest allies who was in office when Obama became President in 2008.

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

In a joint press conference last week, he called Chancellor Merkel "an outstanding partner."

(Source: The White House)

(Photo via REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke)

"In terms of our core values, in terms of her integrity, her truthfulness, her thoughtfulness, her doing her homework, knowing her facts... I think she's been outstanding."

(Photo via REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

In the same conference, Merkel expressed her sadness at Obama's departure, saying: "Now, taking leave from my partner and friend, well, yes, it is hard. If you've worked together with somebody very well, leave-taking is very difficult."

(Photo via REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The leaders have seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues, including maintaining sanctions against Russia over its role in Crimea, laying out an approach to the crisis in the Middle East, and in navigating the financial crisis.

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

"We all know that democracy lives off change," Merkel told press. "So in the United States of America, the Constitution has very clear stipulations on this — eight years and that's it."

(Photo via REUTERS/Jim Young)

But Merkel has shown that she is willing to cooperate with Trump. She said she will approach his presidency with "an open mind" in order to build on the trust that has been maintained between the two countries.

(Photo via REUTERS/Jesco Dezel/Bundesregierung/Pool)

She also took to Instagram to offer her congratulations, saying she will offer "close cooperation to the future president of the United States of America."

(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

But while Obama is preparing for his departure from the top office, Merkel recently announced that she will be running for office for a fourth consecutive term.

(Photo via REUTERS/ Nicolas Asfonri/Pool)

Merkel told reporters at last week's press conference in Germany that it is "a very good thing if, after eight years of cooperation, the President of the United States says that this is a cooperation based on friendship."

(Source: Business Insider)

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Cheers to that!

(Photo via REUTERS/Larry Downing)

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