President Obama held a town hall Wednesday at Facebook's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters, in front of a live crowd of employees and a virtual audience on Facebook Live. The appearance raised Facebook's profile and allowed Obama to talk directly to younger voters, but, as Politico notes, it also carries risks for both sides. Facebook might look partisan, and Obama — whose former press secretary was in the running earlier this year for a top job at Facebook — will be even more closely associated with a sometimes-controversial company. Are Obama and Facebook too close for comfort? (Watch a clip from Obama's town hall.)
It's a risk worth taking for Obama: The president's political team is clearly hoping Obama's "trek to the hub of the social networking movement" will resonate with young voters, says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. Obama's smart use of social networking in 2008 helped him win the 18-to-29 vote by a stunning 35-point margin, and if this "first-of-its-kind event" helps him recreate that "political magic" next year, it's well worth it.
"Facebook, President Obama and the youth vote in 2012"
Obama's hardly the first politician to flirt with Facebook: The "tech savvy" Obama may go down in the history books as the first sitting president to visit Facebook HQ, says Maggie Shiels at BBC News. But he's hardly pioneering. George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Katy Perry, Mike Tyson, and Conan O'Brien have all beaten Obama to the Facebook Live chair, as have congressmen from both parties. If anything, I'd say Obama's "late to the Facebook party."
"President Obama drops in on Facebook"
This is just a gimmick — but it could hurt Facebook: Many believe that Enron and George W. Bush didn't exactly help themselves by becoming linked in the public eye, nor did Halliburton and Dick Cheney, says Rob Port at Say Anything. Could Facebook face a similar fate for hitching its wagon to Obama's star? Maybe. GE's "cozy relationship" with the Obama White House has earned it "no small amount of scorn," and GM will long be derided as "government motors."
"Obama's Facebook townhall: Innovation or gimmick?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How I lost all my money
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- The best books we read in 2014
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week