Brand & Martínez

Brand & Martínez is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand & A Martínez

President Obama answers your questions, nearly kills Reddit

by Brand & Martínez

46247 full
President Barack Obama answering questions on Reddit on Wednesday.

The president reached out to an influential community yesterday that's full of taste-makers, potential donors and those beautiful people who make cat videos go viral on YouTube.

And he did it without getting up from his computer.

For 30 minutes, Obama answered questions from people on the social news website Reddit, through the popular meme "Ask Me Anything." His presence nearly caused Reddit -- with its self-professed 3 billion page views a month -- to crash completely.

Thousands of comments were generated (4,000 in the first 20 minutes). Questions covered everything from the space program to health care to the quality of the White House beer; Obama answered about 10.

"It'd be pretty cool if you were at your computer typing to President Obama and he replied directly to you," says Matt Silverman, an editor at Mashable.com. "By him removing the media bubble around him, it endears him to users of that site."

Silverman says that the Reddit interview was a shrewd move from a president who some say is facing an "enthusiasm gap."

"Users will discuss a lot of topics," Silverman explains. "He's opening himself up to unfettered interview access ... In theory, it could've engaged dialogue."

Could've... but didn't.

"It's kind of impossible for a president or a presidential candidate to be candid with the journalist or internet community," the editor admits. "I almost feel like it did sort of more for Reddit than it did help Obama's campaign. But it was a nice gesture to say, 'I get the internet.'"

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