"Hello Reddit! Let's get started," Senator Joe Manchin says cheerfully before diving into a list of questions for Atlantic Video's Ask Washington Anything series. Earlier this week, 3 million members of Reddit's Politics community had a chance to submit and vote on questions for the lawmaker. Manchin tackles the top ten in the 20-minute video above, covering gun control, drugs, coal mining, and more.
One of the few remaining moderates in an increasingly polarized Congress, Manchin approaches these wide-ranging issues seeking what he calls "balance." Although he's in favor of developing renewable energy sources, he points out the country's ongoing reliance on his state's coal industry. When asked about his thoughts on gay marriage, he is frank: "I was raised in little Farmington, West Virginia, and I don't believe in any aspect of discrimination. With that being said, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I know that might be [different] from other people, but that's my view."
What Is Ask Washington Anything?
The interview kicks off a new series called Ask Washington Anything, produced by Atlantic Video in partnership with Reddit. Inspired by the social media site's popular "Ask Me Anything" question-and-answer sessions, we've reached out to politicians and other Washington insiders to field queries from Reddit users. Our first three videos feature Manchin; Grover Norquist, president and founder of Americans for Tax Reform; and Sam Kass, Executive Director for Let's Move! and former White House chef.
How Does It Work?
On Monday, Reddit's general manager Erik Martin invited members of Reddit's Politics community to "ask Senator Joe Manchin anything." Twenty-four hours later, we gathered the ten best questions (more on that below) and on November 13, Manchin answered them on video. We're grateful to everyone who took time to submit questions and vote the best ones to the top. We'd also like to thank Erik and all the moderators for welcoming this experiment and making it possible.
In the interest of making sure all ten questions got answered in the limited time we had, we decided to excerpt just the questions from the comments. Users often wrote long and detailed comments, which you can read in full here. We realize some users might be upset that we couldn't include the full text of their comments, but we believe shorter questions make for more watchable videos and helped ensure that all ten questions were covered. Moving forward, we'll be sure to make these constraints more clear in advance so that users can format their questions accordingly. The ten questions we asked, sorted by "best" and edited for length, are:
What's That Handwritten Sign?
AMA contributors often take a photo of themselves with handmade signs to put a face to their typewritten answers (and provide identity verification). Bill Gates, for example, made a particularly nice sign for his AMA. We didn't technically need to verify any of the interviewees' identities since these conversations are captured on video—but we still thought the signs looked cool.