But for years now, Twitter has become a crucial part of the TV news experience for many of us by providing smart and snarky real-time annotation of what we’re watching.
And, if we want, we don’t need to watch the news event at all: We can just get the highlights of the commentary on Twitter.
Like I did today, when Donald Trump completed his weird, start-stop and ultimately very Trumpian rollout of Mike Pence.
I’m at a place without a TV, so I couldn’t watch Trump on TV even if I wanted to. And while I’m sure that one of the networks would let me stream the event to my MacBook or iPhone, I couldn’t find it easily.*
No worries. I got everything I needed from Twitter.
Starting with the pre-show atmospherics/irony:
"You can't always get what you want" now playing five minutes before Trump is set to announce his running mate.— Tom Llamas (@TomLlamasABC) July 16, 2016
And some more pre-show irony:
The New York Hilton? He couldn't afford Trump Tower?— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) July 16, 2016
A critique of the production values:
what's with the mood lighting?— Vivian Schiller (@vivian) July 16, 2016
And now on to the show, which seemed to feature a lot of Trump and not much Pence. This should not have surprised anyone:
"Now that I've outlined all the horrors of the world, ladies and gentlemen, Mike Pence!"— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 16, 2016
That Trump-reading-from-a-30-pt-type Word-document shoulder-jiggle— Ian Schafer (@ischafer) July 16, 2016
David Simon, the man who brought us “The Wire,” has become an excellent addition to the Twitterati:
Well of course not. He has to share the bumpersticker and everything. https://t.co/IzdWpLy7mw— David Simon (@AoDespair) July 16, 2016
But mostly Order. Heavy on the Order. https://t.co/9eBIiRq6fC— David Simon (@AoDespair) July 16, 2016
More Trump on Pence, which turns out to be about Trump:
Why Pence? Trump says. "One of the reasons is party unity, I have to be honest."— Michael Tackett (@tackettdc) July 16, 2016
This is like a wedding toast where the best man only talks about himself.— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 16, 2016
OK, now Trump, who may never get AROUND to Pence, is extolling his own supposed Iraq prescience. Um, Pence voted on Iraq as Clinton did.— Frank Bruni (@FrankBruni) July 16, 2016
A reminder that Trump is consistently confusing (which is one of the reasons many people watch him and talk about him):
Hundreds of people I follow still tweet real time about how Trump isn't being rational, like that's going to mean something.— Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) July 16, 2016
Still unseen at the Mike Pence event at this point: Mike Pence.
Now back to Mike Pence...NAFTA is horrible...I have a great friend who is a builder, he builds plants...I said, but Mexico....— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 16, 2016
Any chance of hearing from Pence?— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 16, 2016
This election will be called before Pence gets introduced. Unprecedented!— Charles P. Pierce (@ESQPolitics) July 16, 2016
While we wait for Pence to appear in my timeline, maybe we should check in on Facebook, which has been trying to angle in on Twitter’s status as a real-time news place for years, with limited results. What’s happening in the world that I should care about, Facebook?
Thanks! See you later.
Back to Twitter, where a new consensus is emerging. This is really weird stuff, even by Donald J. Trump standards of weird.
Yes. Speech IS strangest moment of campaign so far.— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 16, 2016
Christie thought he had set record for humiliation, but no... https://t.co/Rp1QrRR1Ch
The perfect use of @Genius would be to diagram and annotate this speech.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) July 16, 2016
Trump ends rambling w/"back to Mike Pence." Less than 1 minute later, "I have a friend who is a builder...unbelievable in Mexico"— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) July 16, 2016
I’m starting to feel like maybe I should watch the video of this, after all. And where’s Pence?
Still no Pence.
Pence just ordered a sandwich, added, "no rush."— Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) July 16, 2016
Wait! Here he comes!
Mike Pence being told he can at last go on pic.twitter.com/oOfqym4Yxj— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 16, 2016
Any minute now:
This feels like Trump is reading Pence's Wikipedia page for the first time.— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 16, 2016
And Pence is here! And Trump is not:
So Trump speaks 28 minutes, introduces Pence and leaves the stage. Leaves the stage.— adam nagourney (@adamnagourney) July 16, 2016
The moment Mike Pence came on stage (and Donald Trump left). pic.twitter.com/lsq78mfJyw— Jake Grovum (@jgrovum) July 16, 2016
Donald Trump and Mike Pence appeared on stage together for a total of 8.3 seconds. So, yeah... pic.twitter.com/uDNBBUxavG— Freddie Campion (@FreddieCampion) July 16, 2016
Okay. So what did Pence actually say? Twitter is less helpful here. There was a gaffe:
"He will stand with our ene- our allies" https://t.co/GJ61yye1Eg— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 16, 2016
Annnnnd that’s about it.
Heard on a hot mic on @MSNBC after Mike Pence wraps up his speech: “this is so awkward!”— Stephen T Erlewine (@sterlewine) July 16, 2016
So. I didn’t see any of this in real time. It sure seems like I got the gist, though: Trump gave a rambling, chaotic, ill-prepared performance that certainly didn’t seem like the kind of thing a real politician would offer at this stage of a national presidential campaign. But, then again, it’s the kind of thing Trump has been doing for a full year. It’s what he does.
My Vox Media colleague Ezra Klein says that even by Trump standards, today’s speech was something extraordinary. He wants us all to watch it. If you do, here you go:
But I think I’m good. Thanks, Twitter! I know you have your own problems, but I don’t know what we did before you were around.
* If this is the kind of thing Twitter intends to stream itself, great. But note that the livestreaming news deals it has announced with Bloomberg and CBS are for specific shows and events, not just news in general. Those guys are still keeping their most valuable content for themselves.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.