President Obama at a news conference President Obama addresses reporters during a news conference. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Fox News never passes up a chance to frame itself as a lone voice of sanity and accountability in a national media consisting of slackers and bootlickers. And so this weekend, a Fox News panel seized on the report of Eric Ostermeier of Smart Politics, which finds that Fox News ranked ninth in the number of times it was called upon to ask questions at first-term Obama press conferences.

“Why does the president not like to call on us?” asked Fox News’s Jon Scott.

Responded Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, “Because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed.” More Fox News-glorification ensued.

As the Erik Wemple Blog wrote last week, there are other outlets that appear to have a bigger gripe than Fox News regarding their first-term question count.

Yet the asinine talk about whether Fox News should get the same amount of questions as ABC or NBC or the Associated Press ignores the real story here, which is that they all should be getting more question opportunities in press-conference settings. As presidential press-availability counter Martha Joynt Kumar of Towson University has shown, Obama vastly underperformed his immediate predecessors in press conferences. By the end of September, for instance, he’d held 74 of them, compared to 83 by Bush II in the comparable period, 128 for Clinton and 141 for Bush I.

Those numbers may well indicate that the president doesn’t like to be embarrassed in front of large groupings of reporters. (He has racked up an impressive number of one-on-one media interviews). But to aver that he’s distinctly afraid of Fox News may be giving Fox News a bit too much credit.