“As Ron Burgundy always says, ‘Stay classy,’” workplace expert Sharlyn Lauby tells Moneyish
The Lord couldn’t save his job.
CNN on Thursday swiftly axed Jeffrey Lord, a talking head known for his fierce defenses of President Trump and a history of polarizing remarks, after he tweeted the Nazi victory salute “Sieg Heil!” at Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.
Lord maintained he had tweeted the Hitler-endorsed slogan to mock Carusone and his watchdog group’s “fascist” advertiser boycotts to “silence opponents.” But, unfortunately, a Nazi salute was a Nazi salute.
“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” the network said in a statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.”
— Jeff Lord (@realJeffreyLord) August 10, 2017
Sharlyn Lauby, a workplace expert who runs the “HR Bartender” blog, prescribes three best practices to avoid getting fired over a tweet: Know and understand your company’s social media policy, take the time to understand Twitter and its 140-character limit, and “be yourself.”
“Over the years, I’ve seen way too many people get a thousand followers and feel that their role is now to ‘entertain’ people and be provocative. They want to become some sort of Twitter celebrity and, in doing so, can take things a little too far,” Lauby told Moneyish in an email.
Of course, there’s still a way to balance humor and professionalism. “As Ron Burgundy always says, ‘Stay classy.’ There are plenty of fun memes out there,” she said.
Just make sure you don’t cross the line: “Sometimes, it’s simply taking a moment to look at a tweet — just like an email — and saying to yourself, ‘Should I really hit the send button?’” Lauby said. Examples of overstepping include attacking someone’s children or spouse, insulting their physical appearance or body or threatening their physical safety, millennial career expert Adam Smiley Poswolsky told Moneyish.
A solid rule of thumb, per Poswolsky: “Is this something you would tell your grandmother? Would you say this to a room full of people that you don’t know at a bar, who don’t look like you?”
Lord might’ve gotten the same point across by simply tweeting, “Media Matters is silencing people’s voices,” he added. “Without invoking the Holocaust — there’s a huge difference there.”
The CNN panelist is far from the first to be burned by an itchy Twitter finger. Here are six others:
Reza Aslan: Another member of the fired-by-CNN club: The onetime host of the documentary series “Believer” was axed in June after he tweeted Trump was a “piece of s—” for tying a travel ban to a terror attack in London. The religious studies scholar apologized, but it was too late. “CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series ‘Believer with Reza Aslan,’” the network said. “We wish Reza and his production team all the best.”
Gilbert Gottfried: The distinct-voiced comic tweeted a string of tasteless jokes in 2011 about the Japanese tsunami that claimed thousands of lives. “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now,’” he wrote. “What does every Japanese person have in their apartment? Flood lights.” The tweets didn’t go over well with Aflac, which fired him as the voice of its iconic duck.
Breitbart staffer Katie McHugh: The alt-right platform formerly led by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon bristled after McHugh claimed in June that, “there would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn’t live there.” She later identified one Twitter critic as “an Indian,” though he was Iranian-American. “Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration,” she later tweeted.
Octavia Nasr: In a since-deleted tweet, the former CNN senior Middle East affairs editor eulogized a late Lebanese cleric credited with inspiring the militant group Hezbollah. “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah,” Nasr tweeted. “One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” After her firing, she explained she’d been referring to Fadlallah’s stance on women’s rights.
Mike Bacsik: The former MLB pitcher lost his gig as a radio personality on Dallas station KTCK after his racist outburst during a Dallas Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs game. “Congrats to all the dirty mexicans in San Antonio,” he wrote. The station suspended Bacsik indefinitely before firing him; he later branded his actions “very bad and stupid on my part” in an interview with ESPNDallas.com.
“Saturday Night Live” writer Katie Rich: Rich drew outrage in January after tweeting that Barron Trump, the 11-year-old son of the President and First Lady, “will be this country’s first homeschool shooter.” Days after the sketch show suspended her, she posted, “I sincerely apologize for the insensitive tweet. I deeply regret my actions & offensive words. It was inexcusable & I’m so sorry.” But she may be out of the woods: Thursday’s premiere of “Weekend Update: Summer Edition” contained her name in the writing credits.
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