According to the AP, after the release of the 2010 budget this morning, in a first-of-its-kind group interview later today...
". . . the president participates in a YouTube question-and-answer session. He'll respond to video and text questions submitted by YouTube users during and after his State of the Union address. YouTube viewers voted on the questions on CitizenTube, the video sharing site's political platform. Steve Grove, YouTube's news and political director, will ask a selection of the top-voted questions in the live interview."
Obama will answer questions on a variety of subjects,
including one of the most popular issues, marijuana legalization. Why
so many questions about pot? Clay Johnson, technology director at the
Sunlight Foundation and an advocate for open government and social
media, says there are a number of reasons.
"For one, the YouTube community isn't necessarily representative of Americans as a whole. And for another, marijuana advocates know how to rally online to vote up their questions. It doesn't mean that they're the most popular (in) America; it means this is the most organized community," he said in an interview with NPR.
Aren't YouTube participants kind of a self-selecting subset of techno-savvy young people? I doubt there are many AARP members logging on to question the President. How many questions will come from those most affected by his budget, that ever-increasing group of unemployed and perhaps recently homeless who now cling to the lower rungs of the socio-economic level as a result of pro-corporate federal fiscal policy? I would think there would be fewer questions about marijuana and more about the coming freeze on social programs, health care, and education; and the ongoing terror wars, if the questions came from Joe Citizen rather than Citizen Tube.
At least Obama is willing to receive feedback from some segment of the American population, even if it's from a group that's technically skewed in his favor and bypasses the traditional media. Unlike Raisin Brain, who donned an earpiece to answer pre-screened questions from "Stretch," "Super-Stretch," "John-Boy," "Panchito," and "Shades" following his annual deficit-exploding gold-wrapped gift to the Department of Defense.
As the New York Times explains,
Mr. Obama has answered online questions before, during a
town-hall-style Webcast last year. But in that case, the most popular
questions were screened and sorted by White House staff members. This
time, the White House is providing only the cameras; YouTube is sorting
the questions, through an in-house tool called Google Moderator.
Citizen Tube and Google Moderator, sounds like characters from an Isaac Asimov science-fiction novel. Call it I, President.
It is inevitable that technological advances will shape and
influence how we interact with politicians in the future, we can only
hope that the rise of social media doesn't eliminate traditional
journalism and town-hall meetings where broader segments of the
population are represented. Marijuana legislation is a concern to
some, but it's not as important as meaningful health care reform, or
government bailouts of mega-banks, or the future of education funding,
or the still-monstrous defense budget and Bush's terror wars, which now
stretch into a new decade.
Will Obama now hold a traditional presser, with actual experienced journalists? I promise to watch it on YouTube if that'll help.