The power of social media has yet again been observed as one average Joe’s Facebook post resulted in a media uproar and an apology from a television star.
You’ve likely heard the story by now. 30 Rock and former SNL alum, Tracy Morgan was performing stand-up in Nashville. His set included some truly awful rantings about homosexuals in which he professed his belief that people are not born gay, bullied gays should stop whining, and if his son were gay, he’d stab him with a knife.
Well, in the audience was man named Kevin Rogers who immediately after the show, took to Facebook where he posted his review of Morgan’s performance in a very well written piece explaining why what Morgan said is important and goes far beyond telling a joke. The FB note quickly went viral as the GLBT community and supporters expressed their anger at Morgan’s comments. Within minutes, the Twittersphere lit up like a Liberace costume and it was on.
As always, once the social media space starts a’buzzing, traditional media follow suit and soon every outlet from the NY Times to the Sacramento Bee was covering the story. Protests were being organized and outraged citizens were mobilizing.
Of course, Morgan has since issued an apology. It’s hard to say if he will be forgiven or if this will go down as his “Kramer moment” which still haunts Michael Richards to this day (although Richards making fun of himself about it on Larry David’s Curb did crack me up).
Of course, there’s been a hot debate now over freedom of speech and what is comedy. But, to me, what’s more interesting is the fact that one man’s little note on Facebook created this massive media storm. Now, I’ve built my career on the knowledge that what happens in social media drives major market media stories. So, the power of SM buzz is not at all surprising to me. But, it’s always worth noting how major market media stories today get their start.