Wendy Davis’ filibuster ignites Twitter; fans rip news networks

Wendy Davis became a media star Tuesday, even though the major TV networks barely mentioned her.

The 50-year-old Texas state senator waged a 10-hour-plus filibuster in Austin aimed at blocking a bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks and force the state’s abortion clinics to upgrade or close.

In a dramatic example of the disconnect between social and mainstream media, Twitter and Facebook were aflame with arguments over the filibuster as it was happening, while TV news networks generally paid little or no attention, at least at first.


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The gallery in the Texas Senate chamber was stuffed with partisans on both sides, including Davis opponents who watched intently to make sure she didn’t violate filibuster rules by leaning on her desk.

As The Times’ Molly Hennessy-Finke reported, the effort ended in chaos, with Texas Republicans claiming the bill passed but Davis’ supporters arguing that the clock had run out. The New York Times reported that the bill appeared to have passed, while CNN reported that it was dead.

But by that time, Twitter had already exploded over the legislative fight, with users glued to a YouTube livestream that according to the social media website Mashable was watched by at least 178,000 viewers at its height.

The Twitter account @barackobama -- run by the staff of Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group that supports the Obama administration -- weighed in, tweeting a link to the livestream and calling it “something special.”

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Davis supporters clocked in with the soon-ubiquitous hashtag #standwithwendy and produced an instant meme by superimposing her head on Uma Thurman’s body from the poster for the movie “Kill Bill.” The legend was changed to read: “Kill the Bill.”

Many users ripped the major news media for virtually ignoring the story. “Commenters noted they’d only heard of Davis’s longshot gambit from Facebook and Tumblr, and not from their regular news sources,” Mashable wrote.

Entertainment figures were among those voicing the loudest support for Davis.

Commentator and activist Dan Savage tweeted, perhaps prematurely, “She did it -- with a literal 11th hour assist from her Dem colleagues ... Thank you, @wendydavistexas.”

Comic Sarah Silverman: “I’d LOVE to see the list of prolife politicians who have facilitated secret abortions for their daughters & mistresses.”

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Referring to the dispute over whether the clock had run out on the vote, writer-producer Joss Whedon wrote: “Now that the senate has proven we have the ability to bend time, can we just groundhog this whole day?”

What did you think of the Davis filibuster and the media coverage?


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