Not So Smooth @ComfortablySmug

Shashank Tripathi on left.

Shashank Tripathi on left.

During this past November’s Hurricane Sandy, a twitter prankster, @ComfortablySmug, is now known to have posted false tweets about the goings on in New York City. He reported things such as the New York Stock Exchange floor being flooded by three feet of water, all subways would be shut down for a week, and that the Mayor had been trapped in the city and taken to a secure location. @ComfortablySmug had over 6,000 followers and his initial post about the NYSE floor was retweeted over 500 times. This information was, insensitive and ill-timed to say the least, yet still was fairly harmless. On SNL, Chris Christie (New York Governor) said that it wasn’t like “yelling fire in a movie theater” because nobody was running around worried about it because they were too concerned for their own safety to really care. It wasn’t a problem though, until CNN got a hold of the information and began reporting it as fact.

The National Weather Service initially saw it and noted it on their website. After CNN saw this information, they began reporting it as real facts without having checked for background information. Since NYC is such a central hub of finances and commerce, the idea that our nation’s center of commerce is flooding and being destroyed can cause a panic. Fortunately, not many people were too overwhelmed with this because the focus remained on the needs of those who we’re struggling to remain safe.

@ComfortablySmug was eventually uncovered as being Shashank Tripathi, the campaign manager of Christopher Wight and a hedge fund manager. Soon after, he resigned as campaign manager and gave a public apology on twitter explaining that he was sorry and would personally take the blame for his actions.

Comfortably Smug’s apology.

This whole scandal has begun to reveal the corruption that has been caused by the way our press runs business. Ever since news became a way to make money rather than simply a means of communication, it has all become about getting the story before the other news station. This leads to incidences like this where a news station will just send out a story before even checking their facts. Not only is this unfair to the public, but it also hurts the news station who ultimately loses credibility.

Yes, what Tripathi did was wrong, but a news station who can’t even take the time to call somebody at the NYSE to see if the floor is flooded shouldn’t be taken seriously. Tripathi is a troll, but there are plenty of people like that on the internet today, and national news programs are responsible for finding their own information, not snagging it off of twitter like a procrastinating high school student. More than anything, Tripathi has helped us better see these misconducts which is the first step to fixing them.