Ashton Kutcher has turned over management of his Twitter feed to his team at Katalyst Media after being raked over the coals for defending just-fired Penn State football coaching legend Joe Paterno, in the wake of a sordid sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky. The eighty-four-year-old Paterno was sacked on Wednesday for his failure to take more action against Sandusky, who's charged with molesting numerous boys over a fifteen-year period.
A good number of Kutcher's eight-million Twitter followers must have been as confused as he seemed to be upon reading his Wednesday tweet which wondered, "How do you fire Joe Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste." Of course, this prompted a flood of angry messages from outraged followers, considering that Kutcher founded a charity to fight child sex-trafficking.
As it turned out, Kutcher admitted to not having all the facts, not realizing exactly why Paterno had been fired. He tweeted, "This is an insane story, I just heard Paterno was fired, getting the rest of the story now… Wow!" And then : "Heard Joe was fired, fully recant previous tweet! Didn't have full story #admitwhenyoumakemistakes."
Kutcher then proceeded to delete the series of extemporaneous messages, and issued this mea culpa:
"As an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case. As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed. I feel awful about this error. Won't happen again."
This screw-up doesn't surprise me, as the largest downside of Twitter is its ability to facilitate the instant delivery of off-the-cuff musing and opinion-mongering that may turn out to be premature or just flat-out wrong once more facts are brought to light.
Also, judging by an October 29 tweet of Kutcher's that asks, "Ever read a book and get to the bottom of the page and realize that you didn't read it even though you read it? #frustrating," maybe this latest faux pas isn't that surprising. What is surprising is that whole eight-million followers thing.