If you were like me last night, you went to Twitter to see live, up to moment reporting of damage on the East Coast due to Hurricane Sandy. I have family in New York and New Jersey and the power of the storm made me very scared for their safety. So far, the only report from them I've heard is a tree branch hitting a car. Others have not been so lucky.
But in between some eerie and just plain horrifying pictures, there was one tweeter who seemed to be tweeting out a lot of information that others needed to then correct, thereby sending the twitterverse into a lot of confusion at a time when the chaos was already overwhelming. That tweeter? @Comfortablysmug
So who is this guy? Turns out, he's a GOP consultant, hedge fund analyst and a big Romney supporter:
During the storm last night, user @comfortablysmug was the source of a load of frightening but false information about conditions in New York City that spread wildly on Twitter and onto news broadcasts before ConEd, the MTA, and Wall Street sources had to take time out of the crisis situation to refute them.
What leads a person to do such a thing, which his critics have likened to shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater? It’s unclear. But perhaps it has something to do with the nature of anonymity. If there are no consequences for posting false “BREAKING” news, there’s an incentive to do it to an accumulate a large audience.
What @comfortablysmug didn’t count on, apparently, was losing that anonymity. Based on photos he censored and posted to the account but I found unedited elsewhere, @comfortablysmug is Shashank Tripathi, a hedge-fund analyst and the campaign manager of Christopher R. Wight, this year’s Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th congressional district.FEC documents show Wight has paid Tripathi thousands of dollars this election cycle as a “consultant.” @comfortablysmug has been a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney and posted tweets suggesting he attended this year's Republican convention.
Yeah, it's petty. But for millions of New Yorkers and others along the Eastern seaboard, this was quite literally a life and death situation. And to purposefully send out false information that could lead to slower response times for actual emergencies is just unconscionable.
But then again, when do Republicans show concern for actual lives in the balance?