The head of TED says he'd consider interviewing Trump -- under one condition

  • Chris Anderson, the director of TED, has said he’d consider have President Trump speak at the TED Conference.
  • However, Trump must first be able to prove he can communicate something of substance to the TED audience.
  • Currently, such a scenario is “hard to imagine,” Anderson said.

Some of the most important thinkers of our time – including Elon Musk, Al Gore, and Bill Gates – are TED talk alumni. But President Donald Trump has never crossed paths with the TED stage.

TED Director Chris Anderson said he’d be open to changing that at an upcoming TED Conference, provided Trump can pass a key test: He must have ideas worth sharing.

“Never say never,” Anderson told Business Insider. “But it’s definitely hard to picture right now.”

Over the past several years, Anderson (and TED more broadly) have doubled down on keeping TED out of politics while also expanding to meet a global audience.

Part of TED’s ongoing expansion has been in delivering a greater range of ideas to its audience, and one way it’s done that is through interviews, Anderson said. He called it one of TED’s “growing formats” alongside its famous 18-minute talks.

“You can contemplate a broader series of speakers than just handing over the platform and saying, ‘You go,'”Anderson said, “simply because ideas can be challenged and explored in more depth.”

A hypothetical Trump-TED collaboration would follow this path. Like he did with Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the 2017 TED Conference, in April, Anderson could present the president with a series of topics for discussion.

“You want to try to understand what’s happening,” he said, “but it’s still hard to imagine a case of the president” doing an interview.

Part of the challenge for TED has been to tackle political issues in a non-political way; the company likes to lean on evidence-based solutions, not harp on differences of ideology. The president has struggled to articulate his own ideas, some critics have said, which Anderson noted could make it hard to conduct a TED-worthy interview.

“It’s more the idea” that wins Anderson over, he said. “It really is.”

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