Obama says his White House ‘didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us’

President Obama is seen here on November 14, 2013 making a statement regarding the Affordable Care Act in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House. (File Photo)

President Barack Obama, speaking in private this week, extolled what he said was the drama-free nature of his White House and said it was a “low bar” now to avoid embarrassing presidential scandals.

It was a veiled but distinct jab at the current occupants of the West Wing, who have weathered a tumultuous year since Obama departed.

“We didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us,” Obama said during closed-door remarks in Boston on Friday. Audio of the private speech — delivered to hundreds of people attending a sports policy conference — was obtained by the magazine Reason and published Monday. “I know that seems like a low bar.”

“Generally speaking, you didn’t hear about a lot of drama inside our White House,” he added.

The oblique reference to President Donald Trump was one part of a lengthy speech Obama delivered at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last week. Attendees were told the remarks were strictly off-the-record and that recording or reporting on them wasn’t allowed.

According to the audio obtained by Reason, Obama stuck largely to his post-presidential talking points, including bemoaning people who claim climate change doesn’t exist.

“I can’t have that same debate with somebody who just holds up a snowball in the middle of the Senate chamber in winter and says, ‘look there’s no climate change because it’s snowing!’ Which happened by the way. I didn’t just make that up,” he said, referring to a 2015 speech by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma.

He also expanded on the role social media platforms play in spreading false or toxic information, saying the US firms had a responsibility to reckon with their own responsibilities.

“I do think the large platforms — Google and Facebook being the most obvious, Twitter and others as well, are part of that ecosystem — have to have a conversation about their business model that recognizes they are a public good as well as a commercial enterprise,” he said. “They’re not just an invisible platform, they’re shaping our culture in powerful ways.”