President Obama criticized media coverage of the 2016 presidential race during a speech given for Syracuse University's Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting in Washington D.C. During his keynote address at the ceremony, Obama said the media was responsible for more than just handing someone “a microphone” or reporting on a “slap-dash tweet.”
Obama's critique was an apparent reference to media coverage of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump who has enjoyed unprecedented coverage from a media that continues to cover him irresponsibly. From Bloomberg Politics:
Obama said the U.S. was “the place where you can't afford completely crazy politics.” He warned of the news media's role in letting politics become “entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis,” even as many journalism outlets struggle with shrinking budgets and seek to attract viewers and readers with shorter attention spans.
Obama said that while he took “some” responsibility for the worsening tone of politics, the media also needed to accept responsibilities. The president told reporters that the American people depended on them to sort through the theatrics of the presidential campaign and remained “hungry for the truth.”
“These are folks who trust you when you tell them there's a problem in their schools or their water is poisoned or the political promises a candidate is promising don't add up,” Obama said.
Reporting involves more than just handing someone “a microphone” or publishing some “slap-dash tweet,” he said. Moreover, Obama said, in-depth investigative work would be remembered decades from now, rather than stories that got “the most hits.”
In discussing the importance of a free press, he said there exists “an inherent tension between the president and journalists and added, ”it's supposed to be that way."