President Obama Engages in Media Criticism, Calls Out Fox News

Barack Obama Speaking at Inauguration - H 2013
Getty Images

Barack Obama Speaking at Inauguration - H 2013

In a new interview, Obama characterized the partisan anger on TV as a big obstacle to moving forward with his agenda -- calling out hosts by name.

President Barack Obama may be dismissive of cable news channels' journalistic integrity, but he's well aware of the partisan-leaning networks' power.

In a new interview with The New Republic, Obama laments the power that right-affiliated news channels and conservative radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh have on both public opinion and the lawmakers in Washington, instilling fear of crossing their hard-line demands. Issues such as gun control, health care and environmental reforms have hit snags in recent years due at least in part to media influence.

In discussing the chances that he'll be able to strike bipartisan compromise on major issues in his second term, Obama said, "One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it."

Obama pinpointed one example, which was a recent partisan response to a nonpartisan situation.

"Even on issues like the response to Hurricane Sandy, [NJ Governor] Chris Christie was getting hammered by certain members of his own party and media outlets for cooperating with me to respond to his constituents," he said.

The president's antipathy toward cable news outlets is not new. In a long cover story for Vanity Fair published in October, Michael Lewis recounted how Obama walked into a room that was playing one of the networks, then quickly dismissed its analysis of why he took a certain action.

Later, in an interview with NPR, Lewis described Obama's attitude toward cable news outlets in bruising terms.

"He's already, for example, decided that nothing on cable news is worth listening to," Lewis explained. "He doesn't watch it. He thinks it's totally toxic, like it affects your brain, and he won't turn on the TV. But he does read the newspapers."