Leave the New York Times op-eds to Vladimir Putin. President Barack Obama’s latest direct missive to the public comes on the servers of the Huffington Post, where he dashed off 800 words calling on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The bill that would make it federally illegal for employers to discriminate against people based on their sexuality goes to a vote Monday in the Senate, where the Times notes it’s one vote short of a filibuster. “It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense,” Obama wrote of states where it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay. But the item was as interesting for where it was published as for what it said.
Obama publishes traditional op-eds in daily newspapers with some regularity — on U.S. relations with Latin America in the Miami Herald, on the threat of cyber attacks in The Wall Street Journal, on Title IX for Newsweek — but he’s also the first president to do a Reddit AMA. That appearance put him in unfiltered contact with the site’s many denizens for several hours. Naturally, the HuffPo item is a lot more polished than his Reddit answers, and there’s not a lot in Obama’s piece that could be considered controversial.
But the very act of contributing to a site well known for not paying some of its bloggers comes at an awkward time, following Tim Kreider’s recent opinion piece about “slaves of the internet” being asked to write for free. The conversation that takes place from time to time (and never gets resolved) about whether it’s fair to ask writers to work for free hit a peak last week thanks to that. Obviously, Obama’s not trying to scrape by as a freelancer. He’s trying to get an opinion publicized. And to that end, it’s sure to work.