|March 17, 2011|
|Mis-Tweets Had Consequences This Week|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Poorly crafted attempts at humor and other insensitive remarks on Twitter related to the Japan tsunami have cost a handful of spokesmen their jobs this week and moved others to apologize.|
Monday started with news of the firing of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who followed up his own pointed criticism of the Pentagon with a head-scratching tweet about the Japanese tsunami:
"We’ve been watching hopeful #tsunami sweep across #MiddleEast. Now seeing a tsunami of a different kind sweep across Japan."
Not egregious, but clearly not the mark of a top PR aide at the State Deparment, where language is carefully parsed for even the most inane declarations.
The latest head to roll was comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who lost his voice-over gig as the Aflac duck (who knew?) after a series of Twitter cracks about -- you guessed it -- the Japan tsunami. The insurance giant does three-quarters of its business in Japan.
“I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘There’ll be another one floating by any minute now,’” he said on Twitter.
Gottfried apologized today.
The same day, Dan Turner, a veteran political communications aide, resigned as spokesman for Mississippi Gov. (and potential presidential candidate) Haley Barbour after joking about the tsunami in a daily news clip recap that made its way to a Politico reporter.
Noting prominent events on a particular date in history, Turner wrote:
"Otis Redding posthumously received a gold record for his single, '(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay'. (Not a big hit in Japan right now.)"
His barrage came a few days after HARO founder Peter Shankman got some grief for his own tsunami quip last Friday:
"Maybe NOW, people will FINALLY start to believe that Godzilla is real," he tweeted.
Celebrities were also on the retreat. Rapper 50 Cent was forced to backtrack this week after a series of insensitive remarks about the disaster.
"Some of my tweets are ignorant," he later tweeted. "I do it for shock value."
New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter also apologized Monday after making light of the tsunami on her Twitter feed.
"u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can't expect anything less," she tweeted.
"Family Guy" writer Alec Sulkin also apologized for tweeting "If ou wanna feel better about this earthquake in Japan, google 'Pearl Harbor death toll.'" He later deleted the message and said he was "sorry for my insensitive tweet."
Even altruistic attempts went wrong in the last few days. When Microsoft tweeted that it would give $1 to quake victims for every retweet of @bing, it was blasted for a self-serving motive. The tech giant apologized that the message was "negatively perceived" and donated $100K.
The Twitter backlash to the Japan tweets came just days after Chrysler fired a social media firm for a profane "mis-tweet" about drivers in Detroit.
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