I don’t want to start this with “In what was the most anticlimactic moment in internet history,” so I’ll start it this way:
In what was one of the most anticlimactic moments in internet history, “The YouTube Interview with President Obama” on Thursday promised to be the “younger generations’ State of the Union” and then wasn’t. Instead, it seemed more like a scripted repeat of the State of the Union, only it was broadcast live over YouTube.
YouTube stars Bethany Mota, 19, Glozell Green, 52, and Hank Green (no relation), 34, were commissioned by Google and the White House to interview Pres. Obama two days after his State of the Union Address. Viewers were encouraged to use #YouTubeAsksObama to submit questions to the president before and during the broadcast, only they couldn’t because they’d get the message: “due to high volume, comment loading is disabled”.
And even if their questions went through, it didn’t seem like they were asked. In the teaser video for the live event, Mota, Green and Green admitted that their followers wanted to know about “education, lack of jobs for college graduates, racial profiling, unemployment” and who is the president’s favorite YouTube creator. Half of those topics weren’t even mentioned in the interview.
Instead, we saw 45 minutes of soft-ball questions including how the president planned to combat cyber security and how to make college more affordable.
All the issues brought up were important, but we didn’t really learn anything new. Pres. Obama touted a decrease in racial profiling in Illinois, which turns out didn’t really decline, his plans to make community college more affordable and the fact that Obamacare had saved Hank Green a lot of money on his medical bills.
What we did learn:
● Pres. Obama watches ESPN’s SportsCenter a lot.
● He wanted to be an architect when he was in middle school.
● If he could have any superpower, he would have “the flying thing,” as long as he “could stay warm.”
Unfortunately, what Pres. Obama hoped would be the “internet’s State of the Union” that would attract “millions” of young audiences that are “turned off by the traditional news show” actually repelled a lot of them. Over the course of the stream, 88,000 viewers was the peak audience the interview reached.
This “YouTube Interview with President Obama” was very much like a traditional news show…with awkward interviewers. At one point, Glozell referred to First Lady Michelle Obama as Pres. Obama’s “first wife.”
To be honest, I would’ve probably peed my pants and said a thousand fallacies if I were interviewing the president. It’s not their fault this interview was so bland and face-palmy. Head honchos at the White House and Google were most likely in control of the content. If that is the case:
Dear Head Honchos at Google and Capitol Hill,
It would’ve been cool to see the vibrant personalities viewers have learned to love come through in a more vloggy format.
A very bored “young” viewer
Regardless, I can’t deny that this interview is still very momentous, potentially setting the precedent for future presidents. Maybe these YouTube interviews will become the new “Fireside Chats” former President Franklin D. Roosevelt once championed.