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Reddit Ask Me Anything of Obama was OK, if you want to enable the corrupt establishment

Remember the phrase "Question Authority"? What the site Reddit [1] did yesterday is the opposite of that.

Yesterday, Reddit conducted an "Ask Me Anything" of Barack Obama in which he answered 10 user-submitted questions; you can read them at [2]. All of the questions were incredibly lightweight and didn't hold him accountable in any way. That isn't surprising, since user-submitted questions are usually very weak [3]. Politicians - many of whom are lawyers - are able to dance their way around those weak questions. Users voting up their favorite questions tends to result in the weakest questions rising to the top.

All of that has been covered for years here, see the entries on the popular voting systems page. Youtube, Google, and others have all engaged in what amounts to a scam and an attempt to make sure that politicians aren't held accountable. We get enough "enchanted" questions [4] from the establishment media, others need to step up and do the job the media refuses to do.

If you're a fan of the political class and you want them to be asked weak questions that allow them to just spout their talking points, then things like what Reddit did are great.

If, instead, you want to hold the political class accountable and make their policies better, then what Reddit did isn't so great.

Learn How To Ask Politicians Tough Questions. See many past examples of bad questions at the link. And, compare the questions at [2] to those in some of the posts on the Question Authority authority page.

Which is better for the U.S.: that politicians are asked for recipes, or that they're asked to explain the flaws in their policies?

Please contact @alexisohanian and others associated with Reddit and suggest they consider helping the U.S. rather than being just as bad as the MSM.

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[1] Full disclosure: I've been banned from Reddit (username: blogmeister) for too much self-linking. I had posted an average of two links here per month over several months (along with a few links to others' sites), and an average of two links per month was just too much.

[2] This says he answered 10 questions, but only lists 9. Does anyone think the 10th was any different? He also dodged some questions (link). Does anyone think they were any tougher?

Here are the questions from the first link:

1. How do you balance family life and hobbies with, well, being the POTUS?

2. I am recent law school graduate. Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. While I'm sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it's difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life -- to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family -- is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people. I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Many of us are demoralized. Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November? What hope can you offer us for your second term?

3. What's the recipe for the White House's beer?

4. What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term?

5. What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term?

6. What is the first thing you'll do on November 7th, win or lose?

7. How are you going help small businesses in 2013 and 2014? and what if any bills are you going to implement for small businesses, in 2013, and 2014?

8. We know how Republicans feel about protecting Internet Freedom. Is Internet Freedom an issue you'd push to add to the Democratic Party's 2012 platform?

9. Are you considering increasing funds to the space program?

[3] That doesn't necessarily mean that the questions are about unimportant topics, although many are. It just means that those questions which are about important topics need to be phrased in ways designed to encourage a rigorous debate about those topics.

[4] This is an actual question Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times asked Obama in 2009:

During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?

Even other members of the White House Press Corps laughed at him. The questions Reddit asked were just as bad.

Thu, 08/30/2012 - 16:57 · Importance: 4