New York Times reporter Ceylan Yeginsu filed breaking news from London: A three-month old interview with a former president! Prince Harry interviewed Barack Obama in Toronto in September, and the interview aired on BBC’s Radio 4: “A Prince and a President: BBC’s Obama Interview.” The online headline was cornier: “When Harry Met Barry: The BBC Obama Interview”:
It was a case of the famous interviewing the famous. The BBC aired an interview on Wednesday that was unusual in at least a couple of respects: The man answering the questions was former President Barack Obama, and the man asking them was his friend Prince Harry.
The prince took the seat as a guest editor for BBC Radio 4’s flagship program, “Today,” and broadcast a long-awaited interview in which he questioned the former president about the day he left the White House, his work since leaving office and his plans for the future.
Yeginsu dropped some heavy-handed hints that she fancied the former president more than the one currently hastening the “corrosion of civil discourse”:
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Neither party mentioned President Trump by name, but Mr. Obama’s successor was never far from the conversation. The two men discussed the risks of using social media and the corrosion of civil discourse.
These paragraphs were journalistic-free promotion for the former president, a Times favorite:
Since leaving office in January, Mr. Obama has more time on his hands. He gets to wake up later, spend more time with his family and take control of his day, something he says he couldn’t do as president. But the things that are important to him have not changed.
“I still care about making sure that the United States and the world is a place where kids get a decent education. Where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage. That we’re conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place. Like we did.”
While neither man mentioned Mr. Trump directly, they discussed the role of social media in leadership, a conversation that brought to mind Mr. Trump’s blunt, unvarnished posts on Twitter.
Mr. Obama warned against the irresponsible use of social media by people in positions of power and expressed his concern about a future in which facts were discarded.
This was an even less subtle crack at Trump:
Mr. Obama also mentioned that he had developed a thick skin during his presidency. Mr. Trump, in contrast, has been criticized since the 2016 campaign as thin-skinned and unable to rise above provocation.
During the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, many people -- including Prince Harry -- wondered what Mr. Obama was thinking as he sat in the crowd, showing little emotion.
Yeginsu forwarded a sample of Obama’s trademark self-aggrandizement:
Mr. Obama and Prince Harry have a range of shared interests, and since meeting in London last year, they have been discussing ways in which they can work together to provide a platform to empower young people.
“How do we make it a reality?” Prince Harry asked in the interview.
Mr. Obama used his 2008 presidential campaign as an example.
“You have this African-American, mixed race, born in Hawaii, named Barack Hussein Obama and somehow he becomes president.”