Barack Obama has mastered the art of elegantly eliding questions about Donald Trump. In a lengthy BBC Radio 4 interview with Prince Harry that aired Wednesday, the former president managed to shunt questions alluding to the current president, never once saying his name. He opted instead to make sly references to “the dangers of the Internet” (read: Trump’s endless Twitter usage) and how he learned to develop a “thick skin” while in office (read: Trump’s sensitive streak).
Harry, who has developed something of a bromance with the former U.S. president, conducted the interview in September during the Invictus Games in Toronto. The prince began the interview by asking Obama what he was thinking as he flew away on Marine One after Trump’s inauguration. Though it was an easy way to goad a response about the current state of affairs, Obama flipped the question and turned it into a fount of praise for his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama. He recalled feeling grateful for having her as his partner throughout this political journey. “She is a spectacular, funny, warm person. She’s not someone who was naturally inclined at politics.”
He continued, adding more broadly that he felt “a satisfying feeling that was mixed with all the work that was still undone.”
Later in the interview, the pair discussed social media and its effect on the culture, particularly when it comes to cyberbullying and utterances of “fake news.” Obama addressed “fake news” head on, saying that when there were fewer media sources, everyone had “a common set of facts,” regardless of political affiliation. That’s over now that the Internet has become a boundless reserve of false information, he noted.
“One of the dangers of the Internet is that people can have entirely different realities,” Obama said. “They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
Obama’s response could be viewed as a thinly veiled way of addressing Trump’s proclivity for attacking media outlets, while also sharing hateful, unverified information on his Twitter page. His response also speaks to a larger problem with social media, something that giants like Facebook are struggling to tackle.
The interview wasn’t all politics, however. Prince Harry couldn’t resist buttoning it up at the end with a rapid-fire series of silly pop-culture questions like Chris Rock or the Rock? White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen? Boxers or briefs? Obama gently sidestepped all of those questions, but he did acquiesce to a few. For example, he prefers Michael Jordan to LeBron James, Rachel from Friends over Monica, and Titanic over The Bodyguard. Harry also managed to sneak in a quick question of sorts about his fiancée, Meghan Markle.
“Suits or The Good Wife?” Prince Harry asked, referring to the USA drama Markle starred in for seven seasons.
“Suits, obviously,” Obama responded, ensuring America’s special relationship with Britain will flourish if it can just get past Harry’s impending wedding.
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Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.
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