THE MEDIA PICKS ITS PREFERRED STORY…. President Obama is making the rounds tomorrow, hitting every mainstream network’s Sunday public affairs show, with the obvious goal of promoting health care reform. If the media coverage this morning is any indication, news outlets have a different story they prefer to emphasize.

New York Times: “Obama Rejects Race as Lead Cause of Criticism

President Obama said Friday that he did not believe his race was the cause of fierce criticism aimed at his administration in the contentious national debate over health care, but rather that the cause was a sense of suspicion and distrust many Americans have in their government.

LA Times: “In media blitz, Obama says vitriol isn’t racism-based

Fear of “big changes” and of the growing role of government — not racism — are behind much of the criticism that the White House faces, President Obama said during a sweeping series of television interviews to air Sunday.

Lead story of Time‘s “The Page” this morning: “Obama: Health Care Anger Not Motivated by Race

The president tells NBC News the health care criticism is driven by an intense debate over the proper role of government — and not by racism.

CNN: “Obama: Race not ‘overriding issue’ in criticism

In an interview with CNN’s John King airing on “State of the Union with John King” this Sunday, Obama acknowledged that racism plays a role in some of the criticism against him, but added that race is “not the overriding issue.”

Keep in mind, race is an issue the White House isn’t talking about, and would prefer to avoid. The talk is entirely the result of reporters’ questions, and this morning, it’s the angle news outlets have decided is the most important element of the debate.

Now, in fairness, I can appreciate the fact that the media wants to lead with something provocative. After months of debate, none of these outlets want to run with “Obama: still no death panels” as a headline.

But it seems as if the media has decided that the intersection of race and health care is too exciting to ignore, and they’re going to exploit it for all it’s worth.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.