It’s not every day that The White House hosts a media company on their turf. But, on Monday September 12th, members of the Interactive One programming team gladly traveled to Washington, DC and in conjuction with The White House, held “Open For Questions With Interactive One.”
This event was particularly special for us because it wasn’t a press conference in which we were mere observers. This was our event. This was powered by our audience (ie. YOU). The questions you all provided for the administration fueled the discussion points on the panel. Which, by the way included a very impressive group of folks in the Obama administration:
- Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council
- Shaun Donovan, US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development
- Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the US Small Business Administration
- Ambassador Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative
- Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
Not to mention that opening and closing remarks were made by Senior Advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett.
We were led by Jeff Johnson from TheGrio.com on a panel that also included yours truly (Reppin’ for Team Beautiful!). We came armed with questions and each member of the panel answered with thoughtful responses that didn’t sound canned or prepared by an assistant. They discussed manufacturing in the 21st century; education reform in order to compete in a globalized economy and domestic issues such as jobs, housing, taxes and healthcare.
We were getting our fill of policy just as expected.
And then it happened. About 53 minutes into the event, Melody Barnes politely interrupted Ambassador Kirk and said: “All of us have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with you all but I want to introduce someone now who I think is the best person to talk about these issues – THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BARACK OBAMA.”
Okay, so she didn’t shout that part. But she might as well have pulled an Oprah and shouted his name. Either way, the audience, as well as those of us on the panel from Interactive One, were elated and quite honestly astounded as President Obama entered the room. Here we were – coming from New York City expecting only an informational hour with government policy heavies – and ending up having the President of The United States join us and give us his take on the importance of our audience, our work and most importantly our support in helping him pass the American Jobs Act.
He expressed the importance of our online community (yes, that’s YOU again) and that our ability to facilitate a two-way conversation between experts and communities in need is something in which he’s very interested. (watch the video here)
President Obama spent fifteen minutes with us, during many of which he answered questions from the audience and from Twitter.
On a completely different note: Barack Obama pulled a Beyonce! Stay with me here – you know how Beyonce will pop up out of nowhere and surprise a group of kids dancing at Target, or some teen girls dancing at a block party? Well, President Obama did the political version of that. We didn’t see it coming – but damn was that a great moment.
Thanks for sticking with us Team Beautiful! We’ll continue doing big things to serve you. Maybe we’ll get Oprah to pull a Beyonce at some point too.
Here, check it out for yourself!
Karla Ovalle on Twitter @K_Ova