Cable News Hours Behind In Covering Rolling Gun Battle In Watertown

Boston Police officer shot

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At 11:08 broke news that shots were fired at MIT … a cop was down. At that time CNN, Fox and MSNBC were working the West, Texas explosion. In the past, most folks would turn to Cable News for the quickest updates. But not tonight. Twitter lit up with multiple feeds, starting with MIT’s student newspaper, The Tech. The information was coming faster than could be read. Remote police scanners, online allowed second by second calls from the police. Facebook lit up with recasts of the tweets and scanner. Cable News was AWOL.

By 11:45 twitter was reporting a stolen Mercedes SUV that belonged to the Mass State Police. Within another 15 minutes police spotted the fleeing SUV in Watertown, two miles west of Cambridge. Suspects, described as two Middle Eastern men began firing at police during the chase.

By Midnight, 238 years to the day after the Battle of Concord and Lexington a new battle was unfolding. The suspects began throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons at police. At some point in the rolling battle unexploded bombs were thrown from the vehicles. By about 12:30 the Boston Police had stopped the Mercedes SUV and a pitched battle ensued at a range of 75 yards. During this battle another officer was reported wounded as was one suspect who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital.

Besides grenades the two suspects lit and threw an unwieldy bomb which went off 50 yards from the police. While one suspect was down, the other got back into the Mercedes SUV and plowed through the police line heading west.

By 12:45, nearly two hours after the rolling battle began…Cable News broke their previous breaking news and began covering the story. CNN was first, Fox and MSNBC followed by 1:30 in the morning.

Hundreds of more updates can be found on this Twitter link.

The contrast between the responses of social media like Facebook and Twitter, using resources like radio reference’s Boston Police scanner link provided real time updates of official information, without the distillation of talking heads, without time lags. The contrast to the extremely lagging cable news coverage of what will be one of the most important stories of the year is striking. Members of social media were well informed nearly two hours before the cable news machines could respond. It resembles the sea change that occurred when cable news first distanced itself from newspapers and network news.

Welcome to the 21st Century. While we have seen newspapers try to redefine themselves for nearly 20 years in an effort to keep up with the 24/7 cable news … social media just upped the bet. 24/7 is now “so 20th Century”.

The story will continue to unfold and Addicting Info will follow it in detail. Or you could wait and watch it later this evening on Anderson Cooper.

I’ll leave you with this.

  • 2:15am Cops doing house to house search in Watertown neighborhood. Cops advised single remaining suspect likely armed with long gun. At 2:25.
  • 2:42 APB on While Male, 20s, gray hoodie armed with an assault rifle. Suspect Two is in the wind.
  • 2:48 Suspect outstanding is Suspect Two – the one with the white hat in FBI Photos.


McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.