“Trump is a symptom of [misinformation] and an accelerant to it,” Obama said. “When you look at insane conspiracy theories like QAnon seeping into the mainstream of the Republican Party, what that tells you is that there are no more guardrails within that media ecosystem.”…

“Trump is expressing or mirroring, and in some ways explicitly exploiting and took on the crazy that was being pumped out through these venues each and every day,” the former president said. “If that stuff is still being pumped out and Trump goes away, someone else will meet that market demand. But on the other hand, do I think that is inevitably what the Republican Party has to be? No, I don’t think it does.”…

But Obama said that changed when birtherism took off, launching the real estate mogul’s years-long effort to delegitimize the nation’s first Black president.

“The guy just decided he wanted attention, like whether it was to promote ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ or whatever, he sort of looked and saw what was being said,” Obama recalled Wednesday, “and he said, ‘Oh, if that’s what folks want, I can do that with even less inhibition. . . . I don’t need a dog whistle, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it.'”