Old Clip of Diane Sawyer Drinking, Popping Pills Is Internet Sensation

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During Tuesday night’s marathon election coverage, legendary ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer was either somewhat drunk or very tired. As we watched the election with one eye on the big screen and the other on the little, tweets began popping up remarking on Sawyer’s slurred words (“Barorock Robama”, anyone?) and over-relaxed demeanor. You be the judge.

But as if to underscore the lady enjoys a glass of red wine (or three) to wash down her prescription drugs, this 20-something-year-old clip of Sawyer surfaced today. From the set of “Primetime Live”, Sawyer sips wine, pops a pill and then gossips about someone who enjoys a bit of the same (along with cocaine). Obviously, this clip has been kicking around in some vault since the early 1990s, but the timing of its Internet debut is certainly curious.

If anything, this viral video is making Sawyer, 66, little known before today to millennials who have probably never watched network news, the Internet’s latest “badass”. And that’s not exactly a bad thing. Should she for any reason get the ax from ABC, we’re sure she will have a second (or is it third?) career on MTV and beyond.

How Social Media Won Barack Obama the Presidency (Again)

Just for a moment, cut the “Four more years” chants and think back to four years ago. Barack Obama and his team have used social media from its early days – this savvy has gotten a lot of coverage on my blog (and about a million others).

Tuesday night, November 6, 2012 it came home to roost.

The President was reelected with an ample majority after a bitter fight. And the deciding factor? Social media. The demographics that trended heavily for Obama (millennials and women, in particular) use a lot of social media. Factor in as well demographics like LGBTs and Latinos, well-organized voting blocs that do a lot of grassroots activism for equality and immigration rights and therefore rely heavily on social media to raise awareness and reach supporters. Bingo! That’s why you can say it, “Four more years!”

The Obama campaign broke all Twitter records on election night. A simple tweet by the President himself (or one of his social media pros) that simply said “Four more years” with the accompanying photo of the President hugging wife Michelle, now has the distinction of being the most re-tweeted tweet of all time. More than 500,000 Twitter users shared this across the Twitterverse as of this posting.   

Photo courtesy of @BarackObama (as posted on Twitter).

When Twiitter Is Wrong

We’ve come to rely on Twitter for immediate information. And there is no time we need more immediate information than during a natural disaster. Hurricane Sandy, which slammed the East Coast earlier this week and wreaked pure havoc in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, is the latest disaster the Twitterverse has confronted in our short social media age.

The behavior on the service reveals an interesting twist to a communication channel that has been praised for its microsecond flow of information that can be accessed even when electricity is shut down and ties to more traditional media are cut. Not only can some of the information coming at us be wrong. Some of it is deliberately wrong.

There has always been the chance that second-by-second accounts of breaking news – and particularly disasters – could be less than accurate. When a tsunami is bearing down on you, can you be blamed for a typo or getting a fact wrong? I don’t think so. But the interesting trend with Hurricane Sandy is the number of tweets that were deliberately erroneous. From a photo of the Statue of Liberty being pummeled by a massive wave (lifted from movie The Day After Tomorrow) to reports of sharks swimming in the flooded streets of Lower Manhattan to more believable scenarios like the floor of the Stock Exchange being under water.

What proved remarkable about Twitter this week was not the technology or the collective creative photo editing abilities of those in the New York Metro area who were quick to set up temporary Twitter accounts under fake identities. What proved remarkable was how quickly the network went into a self-correcting mode. Misleading, wrong or just plain made-up tweets were challenged and updated by other users claiming them to be false. And, as time went on, correct information emerged to override most of the inaccuracies.

In this way then, Twitter functions like “a self-cleaning oven,” according to Rachael Horwitz, a Twitter spokeswoman, in an interview for the New York Times. Which means to say that the casserole you let bubble over last night while you were busy scrolling through your Twitter feed is all cleaned up by now.

Sources: The New York Times, “On Twitter, Sifting Through Falsehoods in Critical Times” and the Tumblr blog, “Is Twitter Wrong?”

Photo courtesy of Is Twitter Wrong?