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Obama scolds political media despite his own transparency record
President Barack Obama scolded the media for polarizing politics with its coverage, even as he sidesteps the press corps to communicate through alternate channels. - photo by Chandra Johnson
In a speech at a recent political press awards dinner, President Barack Obama criticized the media for polarizing politics with its campaign coverage.

"Its worth asking ourselves what each of us as politicians, as journalists, but most of all as citizens may have done (to create the polarized political atmosphere)," Politico quoted Obama, going on to praise journalism he said got "deeper" into the issues and "demanded more" accountability for journalists and candidates (Obama stopped short of naming GOP candidate Donald Trump by name).

But Obama has contributed to much of the polarization he chided the press for inciting, media critics said in the wake of the speech, pointing to Obama's abysmal transparency record with reporter Freedom of Information Act requests.

"The Obama administration holds the record for denying or withholding the largest amount of Freedom of Information requests," Fortune's Matthew Ingram reported. "How is that helping the news media to 'dig deeper' or 'demand more' accountability?"

Washington Post columnist Callum Bochers agreed that Obama had a point media outlets are more splintered these days along ideological lines but Obama has done little to reach out to media outlets that may disagree with him, therefore increasing the division.

"The pattern is unmistakable: To make a point about the folly of selection bias, Obama selects media with audiences that are mostly biased in his favor or aren't going to ask the toughest questions. He perpetuates the problem even as he denounces it," Bochers reported. "Obama played into the fragmentation of the media by granting interviews that positioned him to preach to the choir and didn't do enough to try to speak to his detractors and answer their questions."

But not everyone in the media thinks Obama's criticism was misplaced.

I would rate [Obamas comments] half true, Duke University journalism professor and Politifact founder Bill Adair told the Christian Science Monitor. "There are definitely instances where elements of the media have focused on things and failed to dig deeply, but I also think there are plenty of examples of the media doing excellent work to hold all of the candidates accountable, particularly Donald Trump."
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