In advance of World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, President Obama took other nations to task for being openly hostile towards reporters, accusing them of squashing the free flow of information.
First Amendment advocates and White House reporters counter that Obama should perhaps first look in the mirror.
As he admonished foreign governments for suppressing the fourth estate, the United States ranked 49th (down three places from the year before) on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, a list compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
Obama holds the distinction of prosecuting more journalists and whistle-blowers in leak investigations than any of his predecessors. It is that track record that has earned him comparisons with President Richard Nixon in media circles.
Yet, the president still insists that his administration is the most transparent in history, a model for other nations.
"Unfortunately, in too many places around the world, a free press is under attack by governments that want to avoid the truth or mistrust the ability of citizens to make their own decisions," the president said Friday, hosting an event at the White House for three reporters persecuted for their work overseas. "Journalists are harassed, sometimes even killed. Independent outlets are shut down. Dissent is silenced. And freedom of expression is stifled."
While members of the media welcome such declarations, they also regard them as tone-deaf.
"This is by far the most difficult White House I've ever worked with," said a current White House correspondent who has covered the Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton administrations. "The president should not be on a soapbox on this. Really, it gets annoying. It borders on parody."
The administration has partially changed in the wake of such criticisms.
Earlier this year, the Justice Department did not force New York Times Reporter James Risen to testify in the trial of a former CIA officer convicted of leaking classified information. The department also effectively raised the threshold for forcing journalists to testify about their reporting.
Though Obama and his surrogates have attempted to smooth over his relationship with the press, his administration's spying on Associated Press reporters remains a recent memory.
And Obama continues to bypass the White House press corps regularly, using content developed by his own staffers to reach the public, while keeping the media shut out of events.
To even the most-trained observer, it is virtually impossible to distinguish whether a White House staffer or a member of the media, for example, took a photo, say media observers.
Such practices have prompted the White House Correspondents' Association to draft a list of guidelines the president should follow in dealing with the press (Washington Examiner reporters are members of the organization).
"We believe that limitations on the press to fully report on the president's activities as he or she conducts the public's business undermine public trust in government," reads the WHCA draft document, which will be finalized later this month. "We therefore embrace our responsibility to demand meaningful and consistent access to the president of the United States whenever and wherever he or she conducts the public's business."
Among the group's requests are that the president take questions from reporters at least weekly and hold a monthly press conference.
Obama is not a fan of press conferences, his aides concede. He prefers to conduct one-on-one interviews so the White House can cater his messaging to an outlet they believe will give a specific topic the most exposure.
For example, Obama last month participated in a town hall discussion hosted by the websites BlogHer and SheKnows, to bash Republicans on pay equity.
The approach doesn't always work, though.
Obama took questions from a sixth grader at Washington, D.C., school Thursday to talk about expanding digital learning tools.
Instead, most of the headlines generated by the event were about the moderator cutting off the president for giving too long an answer.
Transparency has already become an issue in the 2016 race for the White House.
Obama aides have repeatedly been asked about Hillary Clinton's refusal to address questions involving donations made to her family charities while she served as secretary of state. Even as the Clinton Foundation acknowledges a failure to disclose donations, which is a violation of the transparency agreement Clinton struck with Obama, the White House declines to criticize the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
"I'd refer you to Secretary Clinton's team," has become perhaps one of the most common phrases uttered by White House press secretary Josh Earnest in recent weeks.
Obama recently took responsibility for the killing of an American and an Italian hostage as a result of a drone strike. They were being held in an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan. Though he still hasn't admitted publicly that it was even a drone operation, upholding the administration's refusal to discuss basic details about its reliance on remote-control killings.
Analysts said that Obama's words surrounding Press Freedom Day are weakened when not followed by a change in his White House's actions.
"The failure to uphold high standards opens the door for repressive leaders to justify their actions by citing the U.S. example," said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Journalists facing persecution and repression depend on the support of the U.S. government, now more than ever. That is the most compelling reason why President Obama must use his remaining time in office to increase transparency at home and reinforce the country's influence abroad."