Most politicians occasionally get upset at the media. But few demonstrate as much contempt for journalists as do Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Sometimes it appears they’d prefer a state-run media rather than a free press.
For example, last week at a Georgetown University conference on poverty, President Obama indulged in a favorite pastime: attacking Fox News (for which I am a political contributor). Mr. Obama asserted that stories suggesting “the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work” are a “constant menu” on the cable news channel. Of course that isn’t true, but how would he know? Does anyone believe Mr. Obama is a regular Fox viewer?
Nevertheless, the president has attempted to delegitimize Fox since he took office. In an October 2009 CNN interview, then-White House communications chief Anita Dunn said, “Let’s not pretend they’re a news network.” A year later in Rolling Stone, Mr. Obama questioned the patriotism of all who work at Fox by saying the channel has a “point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of the country.”
It is unseemly for any president to offer such personal criticism of a news outlet. No other chief executive in the past 40 years has done it. This administration has also made extensive efforts to bypass the press altogether by holding news conferences less frequently than the last three presidents, announcing news via social media, restricting pool reporters’ access to presidential events and appearances, and supplying video and photos shot by White House staff in lieu of giving access to news photographers. All of this to get Mr. Obama’s message directly to voters without having to go through troublesome journalists.
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Karl Rove joined Fox News Channel as a political contributor in February 2008. He also currently serves as a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads. His latest book is "The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters" (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @KarlRove.