The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is always an obnoxious event that provides further visual evidence of an out of touch and aloof mainstream media compromising its integrity for access to power, but this year was particularly gross. While so-called journalists were toasting champagne and laughing at inside Beltway jokes a unrest raged in Baltimore over the killing of 25 year-old Freddie Gray who died in police custody. The police responded to the unrest, in part, by locking in 40,000 people watching a baseball game at Camden Yards.
The news networks decided to stay on the dinner and left it to social media to report on the news. One of CNN’s talking heads apparently even suggested it was acceptable to not cover the Freddie Gray protests as the public could learn about the event on Twitter.
The worst aspect of this, really, isn't that it happens. It's that it's exactly what everyone expects to happen.
If you did take CNN's advice and chose to learn about the event on Twitter, you might have noticed this remarkable statement from Orioles COO John Angelos.
My greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.There's more so go read the rest. But note that Angelos is responding via Twitter to a local Baltimore media professional's complaint about "inconvenienced" baseball fans. In other words, not only did we learn more about the event by looking at Twitter than we did from the commercial news media, we got a better examination of the context as well.
I'm not interested in getting into a future of the media discussion over this right now. I think this incident says more about the failure of the professional news media more than it tells us anything worthwhile about the value of social media. Even though it's true that there are all sorts of internets you can look at, we've still got a ton of money and audience share invested in 24 hour cable news networks. So it still matters what happens on those channels. If they aren't using that platform to show us the news, then what are they even doing?