Timing is everything, and unfortunately for the Democratic Party and President Obama, the timing of Tuesday’s nights State of the Union Address could not have been any worse.
Obama’s address focusing on heady issues of the “Es”—economy, energy, environment, education—was drowned out as media and social media were distracted with other national and international news.
Leading up to the address, the buildup was overshadowed by the Pope’s resignation, North Korea’s nuclear test, and the creepy rocker Ted Nugent sideshow. During the address, the standoff with rogue former police officer Christopher Dorner stole whatever buzz was left.
True to form, about 48 minutes into the address news stations reported that Dorner was dead, burned inside of a cabin. CNN could barely wait to switch coverage from the address to the breaking news. No fewer than three seconds after Obama finished, CNN quickly chimed in with the Dorner news.
Comedian Travis Simmons took note of the media storm, tweeting:
Pope Quitting, Uncle Dorner’s Burning CabinCan a brother just enjoy the State of the Union.Why is everyone… fb.me/1Vaxwa3MI
— Travis Simmons (@thebigfunny) February 13, 2013
Los Angeles Times reporter Jeremiah Dobruck was even awestruck by the competing news:
Pope, nuke, gunfight, State of the Union. Unless we’re contacted by aliens, I’m not sure how this week’s news could get any crazier.
— Jeremiah Dobruck (@jeremiahdobruck) February 12, 2013
TMZ’s Brianne Addante tweeted:
— Brianne Addante (@xoxobrianne) February 13, 2013
April Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio, offered some perspective with another instance of the State of the Union competing with breaking news:
1997 Bill Clinton SOTU was split screen with OJ Simpson Civil verdict. will Dorner episode be over by 9PM for Obama SOTU?
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) February 12, 2013
Some people didn’t have to pick one news event. The person behind the Twitter handle @Muffissness said:
— Muffissness (@Muffissness) February 13, 2013
For those who could cut through the clutter and watch the address, comments stayed mundane compared to last year’s robust political season. As with most social media events, the irreverence of social media again showed its humorous and sometimes offensive side with the hashtag #thingsIdRatherDoThanWatchSotu.
Social media conversations also took note of Ted Nugent’s high-profile attendance at the address. He didn’t miss a beat, or a media opportunity, to push his views on gun rights and flaunt his political and social incorrectness.
MSNBC contributor Dave Weigel tweeted:
OH reporter asking someone to help him find Nugent in the crowd: “He looks like a tall, crazy white motherf**ker”
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 13, 2013
With all the news of the night, Portland-based journalist Beth Shea Palmer seemed to wrap up the online sentiment:
— Beth Shea Palmer (@BethSheaPalmer) February 13, 2013
Gil Rudawsky heads the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.