Politico’s senior editor has pushed back in a big way against President Barack Obama’s lecturing the media the other day on how to their jobs.
In remarks that were clearly targeted at Donald Trump, Obama urged the assembled journalists at Syracuse University to hold the ideals of a free press in its coverage of the candidate.
Said the president who holds the record for denying and withholding FOIA requests. https://t.co/tAFvyEDI3N
— John Russell (@JohnRussell99) March 29, 2016
The crowd applauded at the conclusion of his remarks.
“What they should have done is bombard Obama with rotten fruit or ripped him with raspberries for his hypocrisy,” Jack Schafer writes in Politico.
He blasted the administration for setting a record in rejecting Freedom of Information requests, turning government employees into “information-squelching snitches”, and using the Espionage Act “to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to journalists more times than all previous administrations combined.”
“You could break Google by asking it to list all the top journalists who regard the Obama administration as Press Enemy No. 1,” he writes.
What makes Obama’s speech so unstomachable is the way he praises reporters at an award ceremony by calling their work “indispensable,” “incredible,” “worth honoring” and essential to democracy while simultaneously blocking honest press queries with all the formidable energies of his office. You’d expect this sort of contradictory behavior from Trump, whom Obama savaged (by implication) repeatedly in the speech. At one point, Obama complains about an unnamed politician (I think you can guess who) receiving billions in free media, and bemoans the fact that no “serious accountability” comes with it. But hasn’t Obama been doing the same grift from a different location for the past seven to arrange the same deal for himself?
Elsewhere in the talk, Obama sought honesty’s high ground by denouncing unnamed candidates for having become “untethered to reason and facts and analysis.” Obviously he meant Trump. But who is Obama to talk? He may not be as accomplished a liar as Trump. Nobody is. But he carries the very same contagion: The Washington Post Fact Checker’s Obama rap sheet is well stocked with “Pinocchios” for the lies and mistruths he has advanced over his White House years.
“The only press award he has any business awarding is a special commendation to Trump, thanking him for making Obama look like a free-speech radical by comparison,” Shafer concluded.
“So what the President seems to mean when he asks for a strong press that is willing to dig deeper and ask the hard questions is that he would like the media to do that to his opponents—but not necessarily to him or his administration,” Fortune’s Mathew Ingram writes.
“If you, like the president, care as much as you say you do about substance,” Melinda Henneberger, the editor of Roll Call, advises today, “then stop clicking on the schlock and support the good stuff.”
“In his last year in office, it’s not too late for him to stop making it harder for us to do ours,” she adds.