VICE media likes to boast of its anti-establishment media style, but when it comes to scoring access to the White House, its methods are very traditional.
Last November, the company announced the hiring of President Obama’s former deputy chief of staff, Alyssa Mastromonaco, as its new Chief Operating Officer.
“[T]he only thing in this world crazier and more freaky than VICE right now is the U.S. government,” said CEO and co-founder Shane Smith in his announcement, asserting that there was “no one out there better or more uniquely suited in their skill set of managing chaos than Alyssa.”
But Mastromonaco’s hire offered an additional bonus: Close ties to the White House. Just months after she was hired, the VICE CEO snagged special access to both Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.
By February, Biden made a surprise visit to the organization’s New York Headquarters for an interview with Smith. The Vice President also spent time touring the facilities, participating in a Skype conference call, and giving a speech to reporters and staff.
“Thank you for what you do, it’s important,” Biden said to the team. “You are on the cutting edge of what’s happening.”
A month later, it was Smith boasted that he had obtained more special access.
“Hello my Diamonds! Because of you — and because we love you — VICE is spending tomorrow afternoon with President Obama,” Smith wrote gleefully on the company blog on Tuesday.
While speaking at Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a speech about college affordability, Obama traveled via motorcade to a nearby bar for a special interview with Smith.
Prior to the interview, Smith boasted that his interview would be different from traditional media.
“This isn’t going to be just another inside-the-beltway presidential interview with the same old scripted answers,” he said confidently, before signing off – “L’union fait la force.”
Obama spent nearly two hours at the bar for the interview, before heading off to a fundraiser in Atlanta.
Although the interview took place on Wednesday, VICE is not expected to air the interview until Monday. Today, it released a “trailer” of the Obama interview, complete with teases of the upcoming interview and a soundtrack.
“Our number one question from everyone on the internet, for young people, I’m sorry, but if you legalized marijuana, it would be the biggest part of your legacy, so what are your thoughts on that?” Smith asks.
“Um,” Obama begins, before the trailer cuts to tease the upcoming interview.