Update: Wow, this guy’s even worse that I thought. See the update below.
While Hurricane Sandy was hammering Manhattan, a Twitter user with the handle of @ComfortablySmug made a series of alarming tweets to his 6,500+ followers, including:
- BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under more than 3 feet of water.
- BREAKING MT @jhlipton: Con Ed shut down lower Manhattan system due to high tides
- BREAKING: Con Edison has begun shutting down ALL power in Manhattan
- BREAKING: CON EDISON SHUTTING OFF ALL POWER IN NEW YORK CITY AT 3AM IN ANTICIPATION OF POWER SURGES FROM HURRICANE SANDY
The problem with these posts? They’re all false. He made them up, for kicks.
Many people think that the sort of people who indulge in this sort of act — it’s the old “Yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre” hypothetical come true — is the sort of thing that some bored layabout would do. After all, isn’t the saying “Idle hands are the Devil’s Nintendo”?
It turns out that @ComfortablySmug is one Shashank Tripathi, isn’t some bored student or some troublemaker from the Occupy camp. In fact, he’s the opposite: he’s a hedge fund analyst.
Correction: In an earlier version of this post, I wrote that he worked for Stone Street Advisors, but Jordan Terry from Stone Street says he never worked there and only wrote a couple of entries for their blog. @Tripathi really should take the “Stone Street Advisors” link off his Twitter profile, but then again, misrepresentation seems to be his modus operandi.
He was also — and really, should we be surprised? — the campaign manager for Christopher R. Wight, this year’s Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th Congressional District. According to BuzzFeed, FEC documents show Wight has paid Tripathi thousands of dollars this election cycle as a “consultant”, and this Meetup page names him as the go-to guy for a Republican “Super Monday” event. He resigned from the position as soon as word got out that he was falsely crying “power outage”, and I’m sure the Repubs will work hard to distance themselves from this feeder on misery.
A New York councilman is talking to the DA, to see if charges can be pressed against Tripathi. Over on the tech news site GigaOm, Jeff John Roberts ponders whether Tripathi’s acts were just immoral or if they were also illegal.
Tripathi has since issued an apology by Twitter. It’s got all the flavour of “I’m sorry I got caught”.
Didn’t Tripathi have better things to do?
It turns out that Tripathi’s already internet famous from this 2008 story: The Self-Obsessed, Emotionally Detached Hedge-Funder, in which he brags about “hate sex” with a woman with low-self esteem that left her bruised.
Thanks to @hypatiadotca for the tip for the update!