CNN’s Jim Acosta quizzed White House spokesman Josh Earnest after President Barack Obama told a crowd at Georgetown Tuesday that he doesn’t know any poor people or those who have trouble paying their monthly bills.
During Tuesday’s briefing, Acosta asked Earnest if Obama’s point shows that he’s “out of touch,” an assertion which Earnest roundly rejected.
“I mean, there’s some communities where I don’t know — not only do I not know poor people, I don’t even know people who have trouble paying the bills at the end of the month,” Obama said during the Tuesday morning event. “I just don’t know those people.”
“Was he trying to say that he is somewhat out of touch?” Acosta asked Earnest after reading the president’s statement verbatim.
“No,” Earnest said flatly. “That would be a gross misreading of his comments.”
“That’s why I’m asking,” Acosta responded.
“That’s good, I’m glad you did,” Earnest said. “The president began those comments by noting that what we see in this country is a greater degree of class segregation. And what that essentially means is that people who are in the upper income brackets live in neighborhoods where they are surrounded by other people who are in the same income bracket and don’t come into regular contact with people who may have trouble paying the bills on a monthly basis.”
“And the president was articulating his concern that that kind of segregation — class segregation — has affected the policy debate about the best way to address some of these persistent challenges in our society,” Earnest told the CNN reporter. “And I think the president indicated that it was important for all of us to challenge ourselves to sort of step outside of our comfort zone and to think more broadly about some of these issues.”