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*-- Obama on campaign coverage in media: 'Crazy politics' alarm world leaders --*

WASHINGTON - President Obama criticized the media for partly causing "divisive and often vulgar" presidential campaign rhetoric that has alarmed world leaders.

Obama made the comments during a speech at the 2016 Toner Prize Ceremony, a journalism awards dinner in Washington, D.C. The president urged journalists to ask tougher questions of presidential candidates, particularly involving rhetoric, violence in the campaign trail and unrealistic campaign pledges that capture headlines -- all which lead to "crazy politics."

"The No. 1 question I am getting as I travel around the world or talk to world leaders right now is, 'what is happening in America?' -- about our politics," Obama said. "And it's not because around the world people have not seen crazy politics; it is that they understand America is the place where you can't afford completely crazy politics."

The president also said that if elected officials and political campaigns "become entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis" then it becomes "impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations."

The media has received criticism over its coverage of the presidential campaign, particularly with the amount of attention given to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Out of active candidates, Trump has spent the least on advertisement.

The New York Times reported Trump has earned about $2 billion worth of media coverage, compared to Ted Cruz's $313 million, and Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton's $746 million and Bernie Sanders' $321 million.

"In today's unprecedented change in your industry, the job has gotten tougher. Even as the appetite for information and data flowing through the Internet is voracious, we've seen newsrooms closed. The bottom line has shrunk. The news cycle has, as well," Obama said. "There is enormous pressure on journalists to fill the void and feed the beast with instant commentary and Twitter rumors, and celebrity gossip, and softer stories. And then we fail to understand our world or understand one another as well as we should. That has consequences for our lives and for the life of our country."


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