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How The White House Reddit AMA on Net Neutrality Went Horribly Wrong

How The White House Reddit AMA on Net Neutrality Went Horribly Wrong

In an effort to recapture some of the internet magic for President Obama,R. David Edelman, the Senior Advisor for Technology and Economic Policy at the White House tried to promote Obama’s net neutrality statement with a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) post.

Things quickly went sour, however, after members of the community mocked Edelman for being a phony government bureaucrat instead of embracing the free and open style of the community.

The highest ranked question on the forum questioned Obama’s dedication to the issue, reminding the community that Obama appointed a former telecom lobbyist to the FCC – the organization he now wants to redefine the internet as a public utility.

“How does President Obama justify having appointed Tom Wheeler, a former telecom lobbyist and obvious conflict of interest with his platform of protecting Internet freedom and Net Neutrality?” one user asked, which was up-voted by over 900 points.

After Edelman gave a response to the question, one user complained, “Even for a bureaucrat limited in what he can say by a team of lawyers, that is one piss poor answer to a very reasonable question.”

That comment was also voted to the top of the thread.

“Um, you didn’t answer the question,” another user pointed out while another commenter fired back. “Quit with the bullshit, this isn’t CNN or FOX. Answer the question or leave.”

Another user compared Edelman’s effort with the historically disastrous AMA done by actor Woody Harrelson:

Politicians and celebrities should avoid creating threads with AMA or Ask me anything if they aren’t willing to directly answer our questions. They just make themselves look foolish, and diminish their support. If this guy would have actually answered questions then it wouldn’t be an issue but he has only answered obvious questions that could be answered by a 5 second google.

Not AMA worthy at all, and a waste of our time. If you want to appeal to us, play by the rules or don’t play at all. This isn’t a soapbox for publicity, it is a public forum for discussion. If you have no intention of discussing what the public wants to discuss it just serves as an insult as we aren’t worth their time, effort, or even reasoning.

This AMA already serves to make the Whitehouse look bad – the cable companies don’t have to do anything when their opposition does the work for them.

This whole AMA reeks of the attitude Woody had when he made his. This is not the appropriate medium to talk at the public – it’s to talk with the public.

Other users blasted his answer as “pathetic,” “stupid,” “an obvious dodge” and a “shitty non answer”

Edelman’s follow up answer to a question about what the president would actually do to enforce net neutrality was also found lacking.

“Sooo….the answer is nothing,” the top voted response read.

Some of Edelman’s answers were defended by a minority of users, one of which Edelman thanked in an attempt to highlight supportive comments. That comment was voted down to -11 points.

“Why did he wait until after the midterms to suddenly announce this?” asked another user. “Why did he nominate a person to head the FCC with the exact opposite goal?”

“The election was not a factor in this particular case. Period,” Edelman replied flatly, reminding the audience that Obama had made net neutrality a top priority since 2007. He ignored the second question.

At another point, Edelman answered an adoring George Washington University student who wanted to know how to get an internship in his office at the White House. 

“What is your favorite website that you go to for fun when you have free time?” one user asked.

“Besides Reddit?” Edelman replied, admitting that he was “pandering.”

That remark sparked sympathy. 

“I always feel bad whenever a politician comes and does an AMA. I understand that you want to generate spport [sic] and show that the administration is connected to the people, but reddit’s not going to be tossing any easy questions to you and they don’t easily accept answers that sidestep and avoid the question. I’m sure you’re noticing that already today,” a user replied. “I get why you’re here, but I just wonder if you knew what you were getting yourself into.”

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