End Of Media as “Gatekeeper” is Good For Democracy

Recently the media has been having a little chuckle about how staffers tried and failed to stop Trump tweeting. Here’s Peter Baker in The New York Times:


From rushing out ill-prepared executive orders to arguing over the president’s Twitter fixation, Mr. Priebus struggled as none of his predecessors had before in a job that is historically among the toughest in Washington. “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,” he said. Working for Mr. Trump, he added, was “like riding the strongest and most independent horse.” But he expressed admiration for Mr. Trump’s toughness and allowed that perhaps the president was right about Twitter.

Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway has previously said there’s no keeping Trump away from Twitter.

“He wants to speak directly to the people. It cuts out the middleman,” the former Trump campaign manager told reporters in June.

But the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School also have Twitter. They too have gone straight to the people, and to Trump.

From NYMag:


Thanks to social media, we all now have a ringside seat to tragedy. But we also have a ringside seat to its aftermath. It’s not that older media doesn’t give viewers access to the survivors of a shooting like the one that took place in Florida — in one recent and much-watched clip, Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg did an interview with CNN in which he looked straight into the camera and asked for “adults” do to something about gun control — it’s that social media gives those survivors control over their speech. In the same way that the phones in their pockets allowed them to share horrifying, real-time updates during the shooting, Stoneman Douglas teens are using Twitter to make sure they get the final word about their experiences.

And because it’s 2018, that “final word” means sparring with media personalities like right-wing pundit Tomi Lahren — and the president. Trump’s first tweet following the news of the shooting was, perhaps as expected, an anemic missive offering “prayers and condolences.” Lahren’s tweet asked that “the Left” give the victims and their families at least a day to grieve before pushing the “anti-gun agenda.” “My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic,” Lahren tweeted. Neither of these messages sat well with Stoneman students online.

Trump tweeted Saturday night that it was “not acceptable” that the FBI failed to stop the Parkland shooting — arguing the agency was too focused on probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and should get “back to basics.”

Carly Novell, a student who hid in a closet for two hours during the attack, responded angrily to the president: “You know what isn’t acceptable? Blaming everyone but the shooter and the lack of gun control in our country. You even blamed the students. We did report him; we tried. But how were we supposed to know what would happen? Your lack of sympathy proves how pitiful of a person you are.”

The Post story, though, moves on from the social media angle and focuses instead on what people said about the shooting on Sunday talk shows:

Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), told CBS that he doubted anything will happen until voters force changes.

If the underlying story wasn’t so profoundly sad, the legacy media reaction would be hilarious.

In any case, school children marching because they watched their friends get shot is going to be powerful stuff. There is no good response that the GOP can make.

The GOP can't complain the kids are politicizing tragedy: they are the tragedy. They can do whatever they want. It's called grief, motherfucker.

The GOP can't say "enforce the laws we have." The gun purchase was 100% legal.

The GOP can't say "But good guys with guns." The kids don't want guns. They'll just say no.

This direct action, made possible by social media, is going to be bad news for the GOP.