NEW YORK -- Shortly after Wednesday night's presidential debate, conservative media figures began claiming that President Barack Obama's listless performance, in the face of questions from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, proves that the press hasn't held him accountable over the past four years.

On Fox News, Sarah Palin described Obama as being "coddled by the media," with host Sean Hannity saying "the media has basically sold out the American people and have not done their job." The following morning, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that Obama "looked lost without the protective blanket of compliant media and over-eager left-wing bloggers" and Rush Limbaugh triumphantly kicked off his radio show by claiming the media has "shielded" and "protected" the president since he's been in office.

Obama's sub-par performance fit in nicely with conservative media's long-running caricature of the press at large, which typically neglects to mention the scrutiny the administration's received on signature initiatives like the stimulus and health care reform. It also ignores studies like an Oct. 2011 Pew reportthat found Obama got more negative coverage than the Republicans vying for his job.

While it may seem like national political reporters and TV anchors haven't challenged Obama much recently, it's not because they're shielding him from tough questions. They've rarely had the opportunity to ask any.

Obama hasn’t appeared on any of the Sunday public affairs shows since Sept. 2009, thus bypassing a traditional stop in which presidential candidates address the type of Beltway issues that are likely to come up at the debates. Obama hasn’t done interviews with top newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post since 2009, according to records kept by CBS News' Mark Knoller. The president's last New York Times sit-down was in Sept. 2010.

On the cable news front, Obama hasn't done interviews with Fox News or MSNBC -- as Chris Matthews will attest -- this year, while only sitting down with CNN once for a pre-Democratic convention documentary.

When the president does broadcast TV interviews, they're often for specific reasons. The White House hand-picked Robin Roberts for Obama's May announcement that he supports gay marriage, but he hasn't appeared since on ABC News programs such as "Good Morning America," World News," "This Week" or "Nightline." Obama spoke with NBC's Brian Williams in April for a Situation Room interview pegged to the anniversary of the killing Osama bin Laden.

Obama skipping "Meet the Press" or "Face the Nation" this cycle clearly isn't the only reason for his poor showing on stage, and arguments can be made that prep sessions or taking part in over 20 debates, as he did during the 2008 Democratic primary, are much better ways to practice for debates. But the campaign's cautious media strategy hasn't allowed for Obama to face as many questions as Romney throughout this election year, which may have contributed to looking rusty when compared with his Republican challenger.

In August, The Huffington Post reported that the Obama campaign was focusing on doing local interviews, including call-ins to sports chat shows in swing states, rather than wide-ranging, national media appearances. Obama, who'd done five times more national interviews than local interviews during his first year in office, switched gears during his reelection campaign.

CNN analyst Paul Begala, who serves as media consultant for pro-Obama super Pac Priorities USA Action, said at the time that he agreed with the local strategy, but added that Obama should also make the Sunday show rounds. Begala said Obama "needs to hit against major league pitching." He said the Sunday shows would be good preparation for sparring with Romney, who not only has done more national interviews this year but also participated in 20 Republican debates last spring. The campaign didn't take that advice.

Obama has never been a fan of impromptu Q&A's with reporters, unlike, say, former president Bill Clinton, and is prone to giving long, at times meandering, answers during formal White House news conferences. The president prefers the interview format and has done more than any of his four most recent predecessors at this point in their tenures.

But lately, Obama hasn't been sitting down with incisive TV interviewers, like ABC News' Jake Tapper, or combative hosts like Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, with whom Obama tangled before the 2011 Super Bowl in an appearance that forced the president to deal with the type of interruptions he'd later encounter on the debate stage.

Instead, he's done interviews with People and Entertainment Tonight. And in an interview that aired Sept. 11, Obama discussed Flo Rida and football with Miami’s “Pimp with the Limp” DJ Laz.

Of course, not every voter obsessively reads Politico or is glued to Twitter all day like the nation's political reporters, and it would be myopic to only do Beltway-focused media appearances. Non-traditional outlets are a smart way to reach a lot of voters who aren't necessarily political junkies, while allowing the ESPN-loving president to show his less wonky side when talking sports or music.

But this strategy has led to criticism, such as last week when Obama appeared on "The View" while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met nearby with world leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment Thursday regarding whether it will change up its media strategy.

Asked Thursday about his earlier suggestion that Obama needed more practice against "major league pitching," Begala told The Huffington Post that while it may be beneficial for Obama to sit down with a variety of hosts, whether O'Reilly or his CNN colleagues Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer, there isn't much time left in the race and debate prep is now key.

However, Begala reached for another baseball metaphor in speaking about debates going forward. "First night of the World Series and our ace got hit," Begala said. "We'll make adjustments. The fact is that Obama's in good shape."

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen

    President Barack Obama hugs singer Bruce Springsteen after he performed at a rally for the president, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

  • Peruvian shamans bless President Barack Obama using a poster of him during a ritual to predict the winner of the U.S. presidential election in Lima, Peru, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. The shamans routinely predict outcomes for elections and sporting events, and on Monday predicted Obama will win. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

  • Michelle Obama

    First lady Michelle Obama walks off stage after speaking to supporters at a campaign event at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Leesburg, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    People take photographs as President Barack Obama shakes hands at a campaign event at The Ohio State University Oval, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at The Ohio State University Oval, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama returns a Marine's salute as he steps off Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, as he returns from campaigning in Ohio and California. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • Barack Obama

    In this Oct. 8, 2012, photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event in San Francisco. The last campaign got the glory. This one is the grind. For all the many ways that Obama's bid for a second term is different than his first, the one that stands out now is the feel at the finish. The crowds are behind him, but this is not the 2008 "Fired Up, Ready To Go!" Obama's admonition to supporters might as well be turned around _ be ready to go, or I may get fired. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

  • Barack Obama

    FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. It's more than President Barack Obama's lackluster debate performance that has some Democrats on edge a month from Election Day. Party loyalists, both in Washington and in battleground states, are fretting that Obama's campaign has been slow to rebound after Republican Mitt Romney's commanding debate. They're worried that the Democratic ticket isn't aggressive enough in blocking Romney's post-debate pivot to the political center. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama waves with Latin pop band 'Mana' during a campaign event September 30, 2012 at Desert Pines High School Campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada. The band members from left are: Sergio Vallín, Fher Olvera, Alex Gonzalez, and Juan Calleros. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama makes his way onto the stage for a campaign event September 30, 2012 at Desert Pines High School Campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama speaks at a presidential election campaign event at Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas, Nevada September 30, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama hugs Chasstiry Vazquez after she indroduced him at a presidential election campaign event at Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas, Nevada September 30, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama hugs a worker during an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama greets a volunteer as he makes an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama smiles as he calls campaign workers during an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama smiles as he calls campaign workers during an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama calls campaign workers during an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama speaks to campaign volunteers and staff as he makes an unannounced stop at a campaign office October 1, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada. Obama took time out from debate preparation to stop by the local campaign office where he dropped off pizza for the workers. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Obama Returns To White House

    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 9: U.S. President Barack Obama steps off Marine One as he returns to the White House on September 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama spent the day on a campaign trip through Florida. (Photo by Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Campaigns In Florida For Two-Day Swing

    WEST PALM BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center September 9, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Working with the momentum from this week's Democratic National Convention, Obama is on a two-day campaign swing from one side of Florida to the other on the politically important I-4 corridor. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Campaigns In Florida For Two-Day Swing

    WEST PALM BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters during a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center September 9, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Working with the momentum from this week's Democratic National Convention, Obama is on a two-day campaign swing from one side of Florida to the other on the politically important I-4 corridor. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Campaigns In Florida For Two-Day Swing

    WEST PALM BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center September 9, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Working with the momentum from this week's Democratic National Convention, Obama is on a two-day campaign swing from one side of Florida to the other on the politically important I-4 corridor. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN

    US President Barack Obama boards Air Force One prior to departing Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on September 9, 2012 at the end of a 2-day bus tour across Florida. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN

    US President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at a campaign event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, on September 9, 2012 during the second day of a 2-day bus tour across Florida. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama stops for breakfast with auto workers Heather Finrock (R, rear) Daniel Schlieman (L, rear) and and James Fayson (R, front) at Rick City's Diner on September 3, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama stops for breakfast with auto workers (seated at table with him) Heather Finrock (R, rear) Daniel Schlieman (L, rear) and and James Fayson (R, front) at Rick's City Diner on September 3, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Toledo Express International Airport ON September 2, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Barack Obama University of Colorado

    BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 2: President Barack Obama shakes hands with University of Colorado senior Ryan Case after Case introduced the President at a Grassroots Rally on September 2, 2012 on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, Colorado. Obama discussed his plan to help the middle class, Obamacare's impact and the importance of the youth of America getting out to vote in the upcoming election. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Campaigns In Colorado Ahead Of Democratic National Convention

    BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 2: President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters after speaking at a Grassroots Rally September 2, 2012 on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, Colorado. Obama discussed his plan to help the middle class, Obamacare's impact and the importance of the youth of America getting out to vote in the upcoming election. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One on September 2, 2012 at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama chats with Barbara McCluskey, 78, of Loveland, Colorado during a stop at The Buff estaurant in Boulder, Colorado on September 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac to greet well-wishers upon arrival at Toledo Express International Airport on September 2, 2012 in Toledo, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Obama Answers Questions During Daily White House Press Briefing

    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 20: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the daily press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House August 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama made a surprised visit to the briefing and answered questions from the White House press corps. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA-KIDS

    US President Barack Obama speaks during a Kids' 'State Dinner' hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama (R) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, August 20, 2012. This first time event includes 54 children, ages 8-12, from all US states, three territories and Washington, DC, to a luncheon in support of the Let's Move campaign, featuring healthy recipes and a performance by Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA-KIDS

    US President Barack Obama greets guests during a Kids' 'State Dinner' hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, August 20, 2012. This first time event includes 54 children, ages 8-12, from all US states, three territories and Washington, DC, to a luncheon in support of the Let's Move campaign, featuring healthy recipes and a performance by Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA-PRESSER

    US President Barack Obama answers questions from the press during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on August 20, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Obamas Go To Sunday Service

    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 19: (AFP OUT) (R-L) U.S. President Barack Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama walk from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church August 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama is embroiled in an election race with Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA-CHURCH

    US President Barack Obama walks across Lafayette Park to St. John's Episcopal Church to attend Sunday services with daughters Malia(2nd-L), Sasha(2nd-R) and First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington DC, August 19, 2012. AFP Photo/ Chris Kleponis (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • President Obama Returns From Campaigning In New Hampshire

    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 18: (AFP OUT) President Barack Obama walks across the South Lawn to the White House after returning from campaigning August 18, 2012 in Washington D.C. President Obama returned from New Hampshire with a bag of green apples and a caramel apple making kit from Mack's Apples in Londonderry in New Hampshire. (Photo by Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at a campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, on August 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-POLITICS-OBAMA

    People cheer US President Barack Obama as he speaks at a campaign rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, on August 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama boards Marine

    US President Barack Obama boards Marine One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on August 4, 2012. Obama celebrated his 51st birthday by playing golf before traveling to the Camp David presidential retreat to spend the night. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Obama Urges Congress To Preserve Middle Class Tax Cuts

    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about tax legislation facing Congress at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building August 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day a new employment report was released indicating that 163,000 new jobs were added to the U.S. economy and the unemployment rose slightly to 8.3 percent in the month of July. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • US President Barack Obama delivers remar

    US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign event in Leesburg, VA, August 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama waves as he ar

    US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to deliver remarks during a campaign event in Leesburg, VA, August 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US President Barack Obama delivers remar

    US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign event in Leesburg, VA, August 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A supporter holds up a placard as US Pre

    A supporter holds up a placard as US President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign event in Leesburg, VA, August 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Obama Holds Campaign Event At Virginia High School

    LEESBURG, VA - AUGUST 2: President Barack Obama shakes hands with supporters at the end of a campaign rally at Loudoun County High School on August 2, 2012 in Leesburg, Virginia. The president campaigned earlier in the day in Florida. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Discusses Economy At Florida Campaign Event

    WINTER PARK, FL - AUGUST 2: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop at Rollins College August 2, 2012 in Winter Park, Florida. Obama urged Congress to immediately prevent a tax increase and spoke about his plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion through spending cuts and reforms. (Photo by Edward Linsmier/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Discusses Economy At Florida Campaign Event

    WINTER PARK, FL - AUGUST 2: U.S. President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at a campaign stop at Rollins College August 2, 2012 in Winter Park, Florida. Obama urged Congress to immediately prevent a tax increase and spoke about his plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion through spending cuts and reforms. (Photo by Edward Linsmier/Getty Images)

  • President Obama Discusses Economy At Florida Campaign Event

    WINTER PARK, FL - AUGUST 2: U.S. President Barack Obama waves after speaking during a campaign stop at Rollins College August 2, 2012 in Winter Park, Florida. Obama urged Congress to immediately prevent a tax increase and spoke about his plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion through spending cuts and reforms. (Photo by Edward Linsmier/Getty Images)