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Donald Trump’s terrible Mike Pence speech showed us Twitter at its best

Live commentary you can’t get anywhere else.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Appears With His Vice Presidential Candidate Pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Live, streaming video on Twitter and other platforms may or may not be a big deal for TV news.

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:

And some more pre-show irony:

A critique of the production values:

And now on to the show, which seemed to feature a lot of Trump and not much Pence. This should not have surprised anyone:

David Simon, the man who brought us “The Wire,” has become an excellent addition to the Twitterati:

More Trump on Pence, which turns out to be about Trump:

A reminder that Trump is consistently confusing (which is one of the reasons many people watch him and talk about him):

Still unseen at the Mike Pence event at this point: Mike Pence.

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.

I’m starting to feel like maybe I should watch the video of this, after all. And where’s Pence?

Still no Pence.

Wait! Here he comes!

Any minute now:

And Pence is here! And Trump is not:

Okay. So what did Pence actually say? Twitter is less helpful here. There was a gaffe:

Annnnnd that’s about it.

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.

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