Though Obama may not be a WGA member (fun fact: his daughter is), and is not technically a screenwriter in an official capacity, many still view the move as in poor taste.
“You can quibble or be pedantic about the exact contours of our picket line and the specific obligations of non-members with respect to our strike, but it is clear here that Obama violated the spirit of the strike by carrying on with his promotional duties for Netflix right now, something that a zillion very fancy and powerful Hollywood showrunners have stopped doing in order to help the union,” Hamilton Nolan, labor journalist and author, wrote in an a Substack entry, published Friday.
Obama could have made a real statement by opting out of his scheduled show promo, Nolan points out. Such an action might have offered a meaningful boost to The Writers Guild and demonstrated the stakes of the strike to Netflix and co. But the former president chose not to, and in doing so flubbed a big opportunity to exercise his massive influence.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as any surprise. Despite Obama attempting to position himself as an advocate for workers in his post-presidency semi-retirement, he was not exactly a reliable labor ally during his presidency, as some pointed out online. While in office, Obama forcibly shut down multiple strikes, effectively neutering the collective organizing efforts of Philadelphia’s transit workers, West Coast port workers, and freight rail workers nationwide.
Gizmodo reached out to The Obama Presidential Center, The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama, and The Obama Foundation for comment. None offered a response by publication time. Spokespersons from Netflix and from WGA-West also did not immediately respond to questions. This article will be updated if they do.
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