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The Top Five Ways Obama Attacked the Free Press

It’s been over a year and a half since Obama left office, but it still bothers me hearing him speak. Between his trying to take credit for the Trump economy and his claim that he, unlike Trump, didn’t “threaten the freedom of the press,” it's hard not to get angry when he speaks because virtually everything he says is a lie. His trying to take credit for Trump's economy was pathetic, but his claim that he was not an enemy of the free press deserves to be called out.

“It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because — they say things or publish stories we don’t like,” Obama said during his speech at the University of Illinois. “I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down, or call them ‘enemies of the people.’” Obama certainly had his issues with Fox News. Newsweek actually described the conflict between them as “a war.”

But, Obama’s war with the media wasn’t limited to Fox News. Obama’s treatment of the media as a whole was so bad that New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan criticized the Obama administration in 2013 for its “unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press.” David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, said of the Obama administration in 2013, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” According to a report on press freedoms by the highly respected Committee to Protect Journalists, “In the Obama administration's Washington, government officials are increasingly afraid to talk to the press.”

It’s hard to imagine, given how positive the media was toward Obama, that his administration could be so antagonistic toward them. But the evidence that Obama was an enemy of the free press is astounding. The left-leaning media today may be calling Trump’s attacks on the media unprecedented, but they pale in comparison to what happened during the Obama years. Here are five examples of Obama’s attacks on the free press.

5. Manipulating media coverage

While media was generally very positive toward Obama, he wasn’t willing to risk losing control in an interview while he was running for reelection should a journalist actually try to ask a tough question. To solve this problem, Obama went to local media outlets to do interviews.

Why does this matter? Well, the reason is control. National media outlets would not be so open to ground rules for interviews. But local media outlets were another story. Local news stations don’t often get the opportunity to interview the president of the United States and are far more willing to agree to ground rules, such as establishing what topics can be discussed or what questions can’t be asked.

Obama was clearly more comfortable when he could dictate the terms of an interview. By August 2012, Obama had done fifty-eight local media interviews, but only eight national media interviews.