President Barack Obama was interviewed by Prince Harry and repeatedly threw serious shade at President Donald Trump without actually mentioning his name.
Prince Harry, who guest edited the Radio 4 Today show, interviewed Obama about power and social media.
Obama did not invoke his successor’s name, but warned that social media is creating a society in which “people can have totally different realities… cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
“As a former Constitutional lawyer I’m pretty firm about the merits of free speech and the question I think really has to do with how we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, diversity of views but doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of our society but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground,” Obama told Harry.
“I’m not sure Government can legislate that but what I do believe is that all of us in leadership has to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet,” he added.
Obama noted that much of the toxic debate is going on “outside of Government.”
“A good way to fight against that is to make sure online communities don’t just stay online, that they move offline,” he said. “Social media is a really powerful tool for people of common interests to convene and get to know each other offline, meet in a pub, a place of worship, a neighborhood and get to know each other.”
“The truth is on the internet everything is simplified and when you meet face to face it turns out they’re complicated,” he continued. “There might be someone you think is diametrically opposed to you when it comes to your political views but you root for the same sports team or you notice that they’re really good parents and you find areas of common ground because you find things aren’t as simple as things are portrayed in chat groups.”
“And it’s also harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the internet,” he added.
“At the end of 2016 many people were relieved it had finished, it was a turbulent year – 2017 hasn’t exactly been easy for the world and many people are worried about the direction the world is headed – can you give a reason for people to feel optimistic for the year ahead?” Harry asked Obama toward the end of the interview.
“I don’t think in terms of one year but I can tell people what I genuinely believe which is that if we take responsibility for being involved in our own fate, if we participate, if we engage, if we speak out, if we work in our communities, if we volunteer, if we see the joy that comes from service to others then all the problems we face are solvable,” Obama replied.
Prince Harry said on BBC after the interview, “I haven’t done that many interviews but it was quite fun, especially interviewing president Obama despite the fact he wanted to interview me… it’s been a big learning curve but also these are incredibly important topics we all need to think about and need to be discussed.”
Obama and Prince Harry have buddied up since bonding at the Invictus Games earlier this year. Recent reports suggest that relationship could end up causing a diplomatic disaster for Prime Minister Theresa May, whose relations with Trump have soured.
“Harry has made it clear he wants the Obamas at the wedding, so it’s causing a lot of nervousness,” a British government official told The Sun. “Trump could react very badly if the Obamas get to a Royal wedding before he has had a chance to meet the Queen.”