Now that President Obama has stepped up and participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian has extended an offer to Mitt Romney to face Redditors as well. Ohanian told The Atlantic Wire that he wants Reddit to become an "expected campaign stop."
"Social media," a term which Ohanian dislikes, he said, is "generating content that's competitive and in some cases even more popular than traditional media." Reddit has already become a stop for celebrities on publicity tours, he said in a follow-up email, and more and more politicians are using it. As a New Yorker, he would love to see the 2013 mayoral candidates come on the site's NYC Subreddit.
The news of an Obama AMA was thrilling for people who spend much of the day on the Internet since it felt like a chance for direct contact with the president. It was nearly the equivalent of a (completely public) email conversation with the most powerful person in the world. This was one reaction from a Redditor posted Thursday:
But another "campaign stop" is not always the most exciting thing, as The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal pointed out:
Take a look for yourself at the President's answers. It's milquetoast defense after quip after simple explainer. It's a campaign stop (or as Tim Maly put it, "a factory tour").
The headline of Will Oremus's Slate piece put it bluntly: "Obama Joins Reddit, Invites Tough Questions, Leaves Without Answering Them." That said, Obama's appearance did make some news: His comment that he thinks "we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)" drew stand-alone media attention that went beyond the excitement over his appearance.
Mostly, though, it seems that the president's Reddit vist was another carefully scripted campaign stop, leading some to wonder what might happen if a looser, more gaffe-prone person in higher office decided to take a swing at Reddit's AMA format. "One of most common bits of feedback is people now asking Joe Biden to do an AMA interview," Ohanian said. "I think that would make for some good content."