Blaming your staff makes you the Twit, not them
Wendy Francis is the Family First Senate Candidate in Queensland who caused outrage at the weekend when some highly offensive claims about homosexual couples were posted on her Twitter page.
The @Wendy4Senate account, which displays all outward signs of being the work of the candidate herself, included this doozy: “Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse,” were posted, with no indication they were written by anyone but Francis.
In the face of national criticism, Francis yesterday put out a statement that was part apology, part claim of media victimhood and part a dump on her own staff.
It’s quite long but here are some highlights:
Headlines are designed to create attention and unfortunately many of the sensational headlines that included words like “gay slur” and “homophobic” distorted the truth of both what was said and my actual views.
That said, I take responsibility for what was sent from my office and I acknowledge that the words used caused hurt and anguish for many people. For this I sincerely and unreservedly apologise. Those who know me personally know that I would never intentionally offend any person.
By way of explanation – not excuse – I feel it important to clarify how these words came to be made public. I travel the state regularly and on Sunday I was in Townsville where I gave blood and met locals concerned about where the major parties are taking Australia. My staff in Brisbane worded a media release on this issue.
When I received the statement I felt that the language used was inappropriate and so I changed the wording. However due to my schedule these changes were accidently (sic) not relayed to my Brisbane office and the wording from this incorrect release was transferred to Twitter.
A couple of points:
If you’re web savvy enough to have a Twitter account and a schmick-looking website, you’re sufficiently technologically proficient to make sure changes to inflammatory press releases aren’t accidentally not relayed to your office.
If your picture is splashed all over your own Twitter page, and there’s no indication that the Tweets may not be written by you (pollies who’s offices Tweet for them generally differentiate when it’s them and when it’s not) then they’re considered your words, like it or not.
Tweeting something is no different to publishing it on your website, faxing it to news rooms or saying it in a press conference.
If your staff write press releases that say things like that, perhaps it’s time you got some new staff.
When you constantly bleat that your position on gay marriage and gay adoption is about protecting Australian values and the Australian way of life, it’s likely that you’re going to offend some people, even if you “would never intentionally offend any person.”
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