News & Politics

Martin O’Malley Had a Bad Time on Reddit

The popular website's users were not impressed by the governor of Maryland.

Fear the turtle? No, fear the internet troll. Photograph via Twitter.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley did not have an easy time on Monday morning when he ventured into the online aggregator and forum Reddit to interact with the interwebs. O’Malley sat down for one of the site’s “Ask Me Anything” sessions—in which notable people take questions on all topics from the site’s users—and wound up having one of the more brutal experiences of any politician who has opened themselves to the site.

Reddit visits have become increasingly popular for politicians since President Obama dropped in on the site in August 2012. Failed DC mayoral candidate Tommy Wells tried a couple chats during the recent Democratic primary, and O’Malley, who is almost certainly running for President in 2016, was likely hoping to polish his digital cred.

Unfortunately for O’Malley and his handlers, the governor mixed old-school governing with his social-media moment. He only answered a few questions out of hundreds before ducking out to sign a bill raising Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Even before leaving to take care of legislative business, O’Malley was getting hammered for his positions on Maryland’s tax code, his reluctance to support the full legalization of marijuana use, and the state’s botched health care exchange.

To a marijuana question, O’Malley wrote: “I signed decriminalization for small amounts of possession this year, signed medical marijuana last year, and another medical marijuana bill this year. I believe it’s best for Maryland to learn from experiments underway in Colorado and Washington and to be guided according to whether more good than harm is done.”

This bit of boilerplate was not received kindly. “Hey I’d just stop now everyone hates you,” a user called tnkala wrote back.

It didn’t help that many of O’Malley’s answers were “downvoted” to the point where they were pushed off the page—leading some questioners to think he was evading them. He dodged most of the silly queries Reddit forums are known for, including more than 15 asking him to comment about The Wire’s Tommy Carcetti, a Baltimore mayor not-so-loosely based on O’Malley’s time running the city.

But he was criticized even for the few random subjects he addressed, including these exchanges:

Question: Do you like lacrosse?

O’Malley: Yes, my 11-year-old son plays lacrosse. Lacrosse is the official team sport of Maryland! It’s easier for kids to get into than jousting.

Question: How many crab cakes have you devoured as a record?

O’Malley: I don’t eat competitively.

Returning to the digital firing squad after the bill signing, O’Malley still couldn’t catch a break. His answers on questions about transportation, Maryland’s recently strengthened gun laws, and attempts to decrease deaths from drug abuse drew disapproval from the “Redditors,” as the forum’s participants are known.

Even for Reddit, the response was harsh. O’Malley wound up answering many more questions than the man he purportedly hopes to succeed. Obama only managed to answer 10 questions in 2012, and his responses weren’t necessarily any more than O’Malley’s today.

But the internet can be a cruel place. As one Redditor wrote after O’Malley finished up, “TL;DR Gov. [O’Malley] is crying in the shower.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.