- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2016

President Obama said it’s up to the press to try to expose Donald Trump’s policies, saying Friday that the White House is too serious for a reality television approach to the campaign.

“I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a serious job,” Mr. Obama said in a brief press conference at the White House, where he was asked about Mr. Trump becoming the GOP’s presumptive nominee. “This is not entertainment, this is not a reality show, this is a contest for presidency of the United States. What that means is every candidate, every nominee, needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny. It means you’ve got to make sure their budgets add up. It means if they say they’ve got an answer to a problem it is actually plausible, and they have details to how it.”

Mr. Obama took to the lectern to talk about the slumping job creation numbers, insisting the U.S. economy is strong and any ailments are due to a slowdown elsewhere around the globe.

But when he took questions, the White House press corps wanted to talk politics, asking him to weigh in on a race where he’s not on the ballot.

The president turned the scrutiny back on reporters, saying they need to press the candidates for specifics.

“The one thing that I’m going to really be looking for over the next six months is the American people are effectively informed about where candidates stand on the issues,” he said.

Editors, reporters and pundits have been conducting an intense round of self-criticism over their coverage of Mr. Trump, after many of them initially treated his campaign as an oddity, rather than a serious political force. Media professionals have debated whether they gave his plans enough scrutiny throughout the primary, and some — particularly television anchors — have become taking a more combative zone with him.

Mr. Obama appeared to encourage that scrutiny — though he said it should go for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her remaining opponent, Sen. Bernard Sanders, too.

Of the four questions Mr. Obama took from reporters, three of them were about Mr. Trump, including one that asked the president’s reaction to a tweet Mr. Trump sent Thursday, Cinco de Mayo, with a photo of a taco bowl.

One reporter did ask Mr. Obama about infrastructure, but the president even brought that question back to politics, insisting the candidates say how they’d pay for their infrastructure plans.

The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April, suggesting a cool-off compared to previous months. But Mr. Obama said wages are up, which he said is a good sign.

He called for Congress to approve more infrastructure investment, to raise the national minimum wage, and to pass his Pacific trade deal.

Each of those are ideas that have been kicked around for years — and rejected or, in the case of the trade deal, put on hold by Congress.

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