How Donald Trump – s – Ask Me Anything – Hit Reddit – The Atlantic

How Donald Trump Hammer Reddit

His very first Q&A on the site seemed free-wheeling and open to all, but it was actually obsessively managed.

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              Cruising the skies above Ohio (and perhaps looking to take more attention away from the Democratic National Convention), Donald Trump attempted a fresh publicity tactic Wednesday night. Instead of his typical podium-and-flag setup, he opened his MacBook and invited users of Reddit to ask him anything.

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              AMAs—that’s the popular abbreviation—are a staple of the free-wheeling forum site, which has hosted hundreds of celebrities and slightly less famous people who are willing put out a shingle and take questions from strangers on the internet. Reddit—part old-school forum, part meme-machine, part possible-future-of-human-society—prides itself on its community, which moderates itself and (in theory) highlights the best the internet has to suggest. Barack Obama hosted his own AMA back in 2012; so have Bill Gates, Patrick Stewart, and a man who fought off a bear.

              So at very first, I thought Reddit might be an unfriendly audience for Trump. It’s out of his convenience zone: Beyond tapping out (or dictating) tweets, Trump actually emerges to be a bit of a technophobe. And the site skews to the youthful and well-educated, with only nineteen percent of users calling themselves conservative. Then again, almost three-quarters of its users are white, and they’re mostly middle class, as likely to make less than $30,000 a year as they are to make more than $75,000. And while Reddit hosts some of the best forums on the internet—Explain Like I’m Five, Data Is Beautiful—it’s also home to nasty, mean-spirited stuff.

              Trump broke tradition with his AMA. He didn’t host it with the popular /r/IAmA subreddit, where most celebrities set up shop. Instead, he joined /r/The_Donald, a subreddit loyal to his candidacy that is populated by redditors who are fiercely loyal to him: They are quick to deploy a “Make America Fine Again” meme in joy or pack up a thread with acidic derision toward the billionaire’s opponents. Scrolling through the posts of the “centipedes” (that’s what these redditors call themselves, a joke centered on Trump’s wily plasticity and somehow inspired by this movie), one notices slew of references to the “God Emperor Trump” and the “cuckservatives” in Congress.

              As such, the ground rules were a bit different than your average AMA. Moderators deleted comments from any Reddit account created in the past month, assuming they were created by troublemakers out to spam the Q&A. They also liberally deleted comment they deemed unhelpful. As one moderator put it, “We built the wall ten ft taller, you might say.” That’s why the subreddit’s volunteer moderators posted this warning earlier in the day:


              We would remind everyone, including media here that we are not a part of the campaign, but we love our community and we will take all measures necessary to protect it.

              Yes, we will ban troublemakers

              Yes, we will liquidate trolling comments

              Yes, we mean it when we say we’ll throw anyone over our walls who fails to behave themselves

              Trump posted his very first comment around 6:30 p.m. and began answering questions shortly after seven p.m. The very first question he addressed was this:

              Mr. Trump, on behalf of /r/asktrumpsupporters we would like to ask you the following questions:

              Question 1: We stiffly believe Hillary will attempt and steal this election through vote fraud, especially given latest events. What is your campaign doing to ensure that we have a fair election?

              Question Two: What role should NASA play in helping to Make America Fine Again?

              Question Three: How do you feel about WikiLeaks? Does it switch your opinion on Snowden?

              Question Four: What is your opinion on Net Neutrality?

              Question Five: Has your campaign ever gotten any ideas from the_donald?

              Thank you for taking the time to join us today and we look forward to continuing to Make America Superb Again with you.

              The candidate overlooked those last few questions but answered the very first two, sort of:

              1 – Voter fraud is always a serious concern and authorities must be vigilant from keeping those from voting that are not authorized to do so.

              Two – Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration.

              Next, he was asked how his administration would confront the media while remaining on the right side of the Very first Amendment. His reaction essentially extolled his Twitter account. “I have been very worried about media bias and the total dishonesty of the press,” he wrote back. “I think fresh media is a fine way to get out the truth.”

              In all, Trump answered twelve questions over the course of the hour, which witnessed more than 20,000 comments from Reddit users. Many of his responses stuck to his stump-speech lines—he’ll substitute Obamacare with something so much better, he supports the police, and so on. Many were pretty brief, just a quick sentence. (No, he didn’t response the thing about the horse-sized ducks and duck-sized horses.)

              But a few stood out. Someone asked who Trump’s beloved U.S. president was. He didn’t exactly pick, preferring instead to cover his bases by naming George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. Another questioner asked how he’d reach out to Bernie Sanders supporters. Trump’s response:

              However Bernie is fatigued and has given up on his revolution, many of his voters still want to keep up the fight. I expect that millions of Bernie voters will reject to vote for Hillary because of her support for the War in Iraq, the invasion of Libya, NAFTA and TPP, and of course because she is totally bought and sold by special interests. She and her spouse have been paid millions and millions by global corporations and powerful interests who will control her every decision. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.

              We welcome with open arms all voters who want an fair government and to fix our rigged system so it works for the people. This includes fixing one of Bernie’s thickest issues, our terrible trade deals that disrobe our country of its jobs and wealth.

              The AMA gave Trump an air of candor, a free-for-all press conference open to anyone who desired to ask a question. But it appeared tightly managed. Scores of comments were deleted during the Q&A. Most of the questions he did response were posted by /r/The_Donald regulars, including Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor for Breitbart who was recently banned from Twitter. Tellingly, his AMA thread was subject to strong downvoting, a Reddit sign of disapproval, indicating other voices were not getting through. (Obama’s AMA, on the other mitt, was almost exclusively upvoted.)

              Trump landed in Toledo and signed off; the conversation moved on to a congratulatory post celebrating his brief appearance. Some complained that his answers hadn’t been featured more prominently on Reddit’s homepage. But for all intents and purposes, the event had gone ideally. Trump got some internet cred and a bit of exposure before Obama took the stage in Philadelphia; the fans at /r/The_Donald got to meet their hero. In retrospect, Reddit may be the ideal medium for Trump, the digital equivalent of a gymnasium rally. He can take the temperature of the crowd with precision, providing them what they’ve upvoted. Like his speeches, the site favors repetition, the better to make memes with. And when things get nasty, his supporters are willing to the throw the bums out.

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