Twitter puts new meaning to court of public opinion
I don’t follow celebrity news or gossip.
When I do hear some story about someone from somewhere, half the time I don’t even know who these celebrities or “celebrities” are.
But, man, did I get sucked into one story that developed earlier this month, and not for the reasons you’re going to think.
Adult film actress Christy Mack was hospitalized Aug. 8, after her estranged boyfriend — mixed martial arts fighter War Machine (yes, that’s his legal name) — allegedly showed up at her house unannounced, discovered her with a “male friend” and proceeded to beat the two viciously.
Mack suffered 18 broken bones in her face (nose broken in two places, and a “blow-out fracture” of her left eye,) missing teeth, a broken rib and a ruptured liver.
What followed was a few days of what can best be described as abject circus drama, as War Machine went on the run from the police.
Here’s the thing: I fully expect most readers have no idea who these people are. And just like I do, I expect them to dismiss drama from people they don’t know, or care about, out-of-hand.
So why am I bothering?
Because in the past when something like this happened to a celebrity (even a D-grade celebrity,) he or she would have a carefully constructed statement from a publicist, a lawyer — or both — released to the media.
But with social media now, all bets are off.
Mack released her statement on Twitter, accompanied with graphic photos of her injuries.
Meanwhile, Machine had both tweeted and deleted a number of posts in regard to the incident, proclaiming his innocence, and love for Mack, etc.
I’ve never seen this guy fight, but any beating he’s taken in the cage was nothing compared to the beating he was taking on Twitter.
You couldn’t read the 36 new tweets fast enough before 57 more came behind them.
The Court of Public Opinion had slammed the gavel down hard.
Then came the weirdest thing.
In a post in the MMA section of Reddit, an anonymous source very close to Machine, claimed to have the truth of what really happened at Mack’s home.
The source told a sordid story of drugs and sex and jealousy and violence, that painted Machine as the victim.
Anyone worth their salt in the news biz — current or former — should be able to dissect a statement and not only have questions, but smell something fishy if it’s there.
Said statement had a pretty funky aroma.
So in the absence of professional representation, have we reached the high-water-mark of idiocy whereby people are using social media to not only plead their case but potentially sway the jury in the Court of Public Opinion before the case reaches actual courts?
What we may never know if Machine orchestrated the Reddit post (possibly from the hotel room he was later arrested in with a pizza and a small amount of cash).
But what we do know is this: if you’re on the run, don’t use social media as a substitute for legal representation.
Because that’s just stupid.
Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.