President Barack Obama on Monday night delivered remarks on journalism that included some clear criticism directed at politicians like Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump–and a few barbs shot right at journalists.
“A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone,” The president said, suggesting billions of dollars in unearned media handed to Trump should come with a price tag: “serious accountability, especially when politicians issue unworkable plans or make promises they can’t keep.”
Not everyone appreciated the nudge to get tough on politicians, including Jack Shafer, who writes in Politico Magazine, “the deeper you study Obama’s relationship with the press, the more you want to ask what business he has giving out a press award. Was Trump himself busy that night?”
Obama, Shafer argues, “holds infrequent news conferences, and he wastes reporters’ time by refraining from answering questions with any candor. He claims to helm ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ while bending government policies and practices toward secrecy.”
The Associated Press’ David Bauder rounded up other journalistic eyerolls:
Steve Capus, executive producer of the CBS Evening News and a former NBC News president, said Tuesday that he’s wary of politicians who become media critics. Lumping all of the media together is neither fair nor accurate, he said.
“When he calls for holding people accountable and talks about the role of the press in a free society, we would agree,” Capus said. “I kind of think that’s part of our marching orders on a daily basis.”
Obama’s criticism fell flat on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Host Joe Scarborough and Politico founder Jim VandeHei said that while Obama is urging the press to do better, he’s had his own challenges running an open government.
CNN’s Jake Tapper suggested with respect that perhaps the president’s lecture “would be better delivered to your own administration.”