Longtime Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton has departed the publication after facing pressure from Fairfax bosses to apologise for “totally inappropriate” behaviour. He resigned after being told he would be suspended for his actions.
The behaviour in question was a series of scathing missives sent out on Mr Carlton’s Twitter account after vocal readers took issue with his stance on the Gaza conflict.
When readers began sending angry emails to Mr Carlton following his July 26 column – which accused Israel of “fascism” – he hit back against accusations that he was “anti-Semitic”, sometimes in colorful language.
“You stupid little p*ssant,” Mr Carlton wrote to one reader, before telling another to “f**k off” and asking another if they were “incapable of thought”.
“I’ve been called a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist … endlessly,” Mr Carlton told Crikey on Wednesday.
“Much of it has been obscene. I suppose, half-a-dozen times, I hit back and told people to get f**ked”.
This response was deemed inappropriate by editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir, who also issued an apology to readers.
“Yesterday the editor-in-chief of the Herald Darren Goodsir rang him and said, ‘You need to apologise’,” Fairfax business and metro publisher Sean Aylmer told Crikey on Wednesday.
“As the afternoon rolled on we spoke to him last night and (as) more of these emails emerged we spoke to him again and said we would suspend him, and he resigned on the spot.”
Mr Carlton isn’t the first to lose a job over social media – he’s not even the first this month.
Last week, Victorian Liberal candidate Aaron Lane resigned after offensive and homophobic tweets he posted more than two years ago were unearthed and made public.
He was followed by another Liberal candidate – Bendigo West’s Jack Lyons – whose racist remarks in a Facebook group in 2011 landed him in hot water.
The three men are just the most recent entries in a line of prominent people who have destroyed their career prospects with a single tweet.
Here are the most memorable twitter slip-ups of the last few years:
Catherine Deveny, writer and comedian
Outspoken media personality Catherine Deveny was unapologetic after she was dropped as a columnist for The Age for posting a series of bizarre remarks on Twitter during the 2010 Logies.
The Age’s then editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge sacked her on the grounds her comments were “not in keeping with the standards we set”.
“I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid,” Ms Deveny tweeted during the awards ceremony, referring to the then 11-year-old daughter of Steve Irwin.
Followed by: “Rove [McManus] and [wife] Tasma [Walton] look so cute … hope she doesn’t die, too,” Ms Deveny wrote, alluding to McManus’ previous wife Belinda Emmett, who died in 2006 after a cancer battle.
Today Ms Deveny weighed into the Mike Carlton debate in this tweet:
Dear Mike Carlton, I hope you don’t die and I hope you get laid. Shame on you #Fairfax.
— Catherine Deveny (@CatherineDeveny) August 6, 2014
Anthony Weiner, former US congressman
In May 2011, New York-based congressman Anthony Weiner accidentally tweeted a photo of his, ahem, privates to the masses.
Although the married politician initially claimed that his Twitter account was hacked, the incident led to other scandalous revelations.
Mr Weiner eventually took responsibility for the tweet and announced his resignation saying “the distraction that I have created made [it] impossible” to do his job.
“So today I am announcing my resignation from Congress.”
Justine Sacco, PR executive
When boarding a flight to South Africa in 2013, Justine Sacco, the communications director of a New York-based internet company, made what she perceived as an innocent joke before boarding her flight, writing: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
What ensued was nothing short of a social media explosion.
During her 11 hours in the air, Ms Sacco’s tweet grabbed global attention, gaining more than 2000 retweets and prompting abuse and death threats. She was eventually fired from her high-profile job.
Gilbert Gottfried, comedian
While contracted to voice ads for American insurance company Aflac, comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted some fairly insensitive jokes about the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
“Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them,” Mr Gottfried wrote on his Twitter page.
Another offering read, “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘There’ll be another one floating by any minute now’.”
Unfortunately for Mr Gottfried, Aflac does 75 per cent of its business in Japan and he found that his 10-year contract with the company quickly disappeared.