WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama is participating in a panel discussion about poverty, and his message is that there’s no reason to think the nation can’t fight it effectively.

Obama says the recent unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, has increased awareness of the problems associated with wealth inequality, and created an opening to focus new attention on solutions.

The president said at Tuesday’s forum that “it’s a mistake” to think efforts to stamp out poverty have failed and the government is powerless to address it.

Obama said there are programs that work all around the country, but the trick is to put them into place on a larger scale.

Obama also took issue with how the media covers the issue of poverty, signaling out Fox News.

“Over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top or … be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, who don’t want to work, lazy, are undeserving, got traction,” Obama said. “And look, it’s still being propagated. I mean I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis — it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They are all like I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative, right, that gets worked up.”

Obama added that we have to change the way media covers the poor.

“And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress, which is much more typical, who’s raising a couple of kids and doing everything right, but still can’t pay the bills. And so if we’re going to change how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we’re going to have to change how our body of politics thinks, which means we’re going to have to change how the media reports on these issues, and how people’s impressions of what it’s like to struggle in this economy looks like and how budgets connect to that. That’s a hard process because that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news,” the president explained.

Obama spoke during a discussion at a Catholic-Evangelical summit at Georgetown University.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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