Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | North Korea | War on Terrorism | obama | YouTube | celebrities

Obama Talks Race and Police, Drones, Cuba With YouTube Stars

By    |   Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 07:40 PM

President Barack Obama answered questions online Thursday from YouTube personalities Hank Green, GloZell Green, and Bethany Mota, but despite the unusual format, the questions weren't that different from those president hears from the White House press corps.

Obama tackled topics ranging from race relations, his drone policy, and the opening of relations with Cuba during about 50 minutes of questions. The three YouTube celebrities interviewed Obama in the East Room of the White House on sets decorated to look like the spaces in their homes they normally shoot their videos in.

Almost 89,000 viewers were watching live, according to a stat counter on YouTube's White House channel.

Story continues below video.

GloZell Green, an African-American comedian who often accepts video challenges from viewers, asked Obama about race relations with police. She said she recently cut the hoods off her husband's hoodies because "I'm afraid if he goes outside somebody might kill him. And it's not the regular folks, it's the po-pos."

Obama said his administration is working on ways to make police officers aware that black suspects are often seen as more threatening. He pointed to a law passed when he was a member of the Illinois state Legislature that required officers to keep a record of the race of people they stopped.

He said it caused officers to think about race and dropped the rate of violence used against black suspects.

Green also asked about Obama's recent opening of relations with Cuba. Green said she grew up in Florida and has many friends who are unhappy with the change.

Obama said that 50 years of isolation has not changed the Castro regime's oppression of the Cuban people, but that more interaction with regular Americans would help, albeit slowly.

Regarding same-sex marriage, Obama said he is hopeful the Supreme Court will "come to the right decision" and allow gays to marry in all 50 states.

Asked what he hoped his legacy would be, Obama told Green, "We saved an economy that was on the brink of depression," reduced pollution, put more people through college, revitalized health insurance, and ended two wars "in a responsible way."

Hank Green, who is not related to GloZell Green, told Obama that he worries that none of the ideas he pushed in Tuesday's State of the Union address are politically feasible.

Obama said he believes infrastructure projects can get bipartisan support, but that it is important for Democrats to "frame the debate" in other areas, such as his plan for free community college and raising the minimum wage.

Hank Green asked whether Obama is concerned about his use of drones to kill terrorists.

Obama said that drones do sometimes kill civilians when a terrorist is embedded in a community, but he justified their use to protect American lives and the lives of innocent Muslims in the Middle East.

"Any kind of war is damaging," he said, but the damage is usually less than ordering a raid on a village.

Obama told Hank Green that the North Korean dictatorship of Kim Jong-Un eventually will collapse, but that the United States is limited in actions it can take because of the country's military capability and proximity to U.S. ally South Korea.

Nineteen-year-old Bethany Mota asked about cyberbullying.

Obama told her voices like hers are more able to combat the problem than his own, since she is a peer. Mota has spoken out against cyberbullying after being a victim herself.

Obama's State of the Union speech had the lowest TV ratings in 15 years, and the YouTube event, along with speeches throughout the country, are intended to reach young people and those who typically don't pay attention to politics.

Mota herself admitted to knowing little about politics before being chosen to interview the president.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest last week defended the decision to take questions from YouTube personalities after he was questioned about it during a daily press briefing.

Hank Green told Obama he has benefited from Obamacare and now can buy medication for a chronic condition for $5 that he previously could not afford. He asked Obama to sign his receipt.

GloZell Green, wearing her trademark green lipstick, gave Obama three tubes of the lipstick for first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia.

Mota asked for a selfie with Obama and the other two interviewers at the end of her interview.

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President Barack Obama answered questions online Thursday from YouTube personalities Hank Green, GloZell Green, and Bethany Mota, but despite the unusual format, the questions weren't that different from those president hears from the White House press corps.
obama, YouTube, celebrities, GloZell Hank Green, Bethany Mota, State of the Union, stars, interviews
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Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 07:40 PM
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