Editor's note: This story has been updated.
Timing is everything, and unfortunately for the Democratic Party and President Obama, the timing of Tuesday night's State of the Union Address could not have been any worse.
Obama's address focusing on heady issues of the "E's"—economy, energy, environment, education—was drowned out as traditional media and social media alike were distracted with other national and international news. Meanwhile, the Republican rebuttal by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio became a viral sensation not because of what he said, but because of a sip of water Rubio took mid-speech. Naturally, it's been called sip-gate or mini-watergate. Rubio responded to the Twitter buzz by tweeting a picture of the Poland Spring water bottle from which he took the now famous sip.
Leading up to the president's 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 ex-cop 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 a woodland cabin. CNN could barely wait to switch coverage from the address to the breaking news. Within three seconds after Obama finished, CNN quickly chimed in with the Dorner news.
Comedian Travis Simmons took note of the media storm, posting:
Los Angeles Times
reporter Jeremiah Dobruck was even awestruck by the competing news:
TMZ’s Brianne Addante tweeted:
April Ryan, a correspondent for American Urban Radio, offered some perspective with another instance of the State of the Union competing with breaking news:
Some people didn't opt for one news event over the other. The person behind the Twitter handle @Muffissness said:
For those who could cut through the clutter and watch the address, comments stayed mundane compared with last year’s robust political season. As with most social media events, the irreverence of the online networks 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:
With all the news of the night, Portland-based journalist Beth Shea Palmer seemed to wrap up the online sentiment about the speech:
On the Rubio front, actor and comedian Albert Brooks offered one of the finest tweets (if you've seen the movie "Broadcast News," in which Brooks starred in the '80s.):
Rubio on Wednesday appeared on "Good Morning, America
," where he was good-humored about the attention. "God has a funny way of reminding us we're human," he said.
Poland Spring, by the way, didn't offer a snappy response on Twitter to the sip in the immediate aftermath, but it did post this on its Facebook page on Wednesday
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.