Cruising the skies above Ohio (and perhaps looking to take more attention away from the Democratic National Convention), Donald Trump tried a new 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.
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 offer. Barack Obama hosted his own AMA back in 2012; so have Bill Gates, Patrick Stewart, and a guy who fought off a bear.
So at first, I thought Reddit might be an unfriendly audience for Trump. It’s out of his comfort zone: Beyond tapping out (or dictating) tweets, Trump actually appears to be a bit of a technophobe. And the site skews to the young and well-educated, with only 19 percent of users calling themselves conservative. Then again, nearly 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.