sunday night in the meat packing district
I flew into NY on Sunday night. I was staying at the Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing district. It's my usual spot. It's 15 minute from the office and just two blocks from the apartment I lived in from 1999 to 2003. It's like coming back to the 'hood only with obnoxiously hipper people, better restaurants and the absences of transvestites.
When I checked into my room I unpacked my bags and turned on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Mets versus Phillies. I don't watch that much baseball but there was nothing else on. Baseball also happens to be the perfect programming for simultaneously surfing the net.
About 10:15 I opened up my web browser. The NY Times reported that President Obama was going to make a rare Sunday night speech. The subject was yet unknown. I switched over from a scoreless game to the various news channels. Nothing on MSNBC, Fox or CNN. The networks only report was that their news desks were emailed by the White House press department to "Get To Work". This was going to be big.
With TV pundits filling up air time until they knew of or were permitted to release any information, I went right to Twitter. I watched what was trending. While the talking heads on the tube continued to speculate, I noticed Osama Bin Laden began to trend. I clicked on the hash tag. A flurry of Tweets started coming. They were so rapid it was hard to read. The most popular post was something like this:
Osama Bin Laden Dead???????
Within a few moments, it turned into.
Osama Bin Laden Dead!!!!!!!
It took a few more minutes before the Fox News Channel reported what Twitter had already known. Geraldo began high fiving his co-host and the celebration began. This doesn't mean Fox gave the Commander-In-Chief his due but they were certainly jubilant.
I spent the next hour waiting for the President's speech while I became mesmerized by the Twitter feeds. Lots of celebratory tweets. Many references to Trump demanding a death certificate. And a few conspiracy laced doubts. One of my favorites was Paul F. Tompkins.
i was thinking should I Tweet out the news too? They are coming at a rate of 4,000 Tweets per second. I'm sure everyone knows by now. Fearful of stating the obvious, I did it anyhow. Sure enough I received quite a few direct messages back. "Really?'. I don't why I'm still amazed at how many people receive the latest news via social media as opposed to traditional outlets.
Ironically, on this night when Bin Laden's death was announced I was only blocks away from where I stood on September 11th. I vividly remember the moment of the attacks and the days preceding it. Like most people, especially New Yorkers, I was hardly saddened by the news of Bin Laden's killing. Although, I must admit I was somewhat uncomfortable with the ensuing celebration and cheering for killing someone even if he is a murderer. I don't think we should hold a vigil but not sure a spontaneous Times Square New Years Eve like gathering is the right response either.
I'm glad Obama chose to handle the post death situation the way he did. Disposing the body without fanfare. Not releasing the photos. Stating Americans don't trot this stuff out like trophies. Maybe this entire episode will change the perception of Democrats as being ninnies. You probably won't hear it on Fox so we'll just spread the word on Twitter. We may not reach more people but at least it will quicker.