On Tuesday, Reddit users flocked to the site to pose questions to Newark mayor Cory Booker. Renowned for interacting with his constituents online — he boasts nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter — it was a natural fit. Indeed, it is the third Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat that Booker has participated in this year, and the media-savvy pol even posted a picture of himself answering questions from Redditors on his Instagram feed:
Except that, from the looks of it, the mayor didn’t actually answer the questions posed to him on Tuesday — or, at least, most of them. Rather, messages posted to a public Google group formed by the mayor’s policy team show them responding both to the mundane inquiries and more substantive questions lobbed in his direction. Below is a draft response e-mailed from a Booker staffer to the policy team’s Google group for review:
And here, the same response posted to Reddit:
The mayor’s staffers also worked up answers to questions of policy; identical answsers are posted under Booker’s name on the Reddit site here. Here, an e-mail to the Google group:
Here, the same response appears on Reddit:
Here, a Booker staffer e-mails his response to an inquiry about New Jersey infrastructure and receives feedback from Booker policy director Matt Klapper:
Here, the revised response appears on Reddit:
There are answers that appear on the Reddit site that are not posted to the Google group, and vice versa, so perhaps the mayor answered some of the questions himself, or perhaps non-policy staffers answered those on his behalf. But it seems like bad form for a politician who casts himself as somebody who values genuine interaction with constituents to have staffers answer questions on a platform whose purpose is to facilitate a direct question and response. And then to post a picture of himself supposedly participating in the chat.