Yesterday, Paul Azinger, 1993 PGA Championship winner and sometimes golf analyst for ESPN, decided to tweet the following:
Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has: #Marthasvineyard
“Potus,” of course, stands for President of the United States, the hashtag a reference to President Barack Obama’s hurricane-ended retreat to that location. It’s not an especially vicious dig, but it’s a dig nonetheless – and ESPN wasn’t too happy about it, saying the tweet violated the company’s social media policy. Perhaps violating such a policy might be brushed off under some circumstances, but since Azinger’s tweet actually came the day the company released its new social media policy, one might expect them to be in a less forgiving mood. Said ESPN spokesman Andy Hall to USA Today:
“Paul’s tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field.”
Ouch. In Azinger’s defense, the guidelines don’t specifically mention anything about not commenting on politics, but the company’s standards and practices manual does have a section that “discourages public participation in matters of political advocacy or controversy among editorial employees, contributors and public-facing talent.” Even more broadly, we suppose Azinger’s tweet could be considered a violation of the “think before you tweet” reminder in the social media policy.
Hall declined to say to USA Today whether Azinger would be disciplined beyond his “reminder.” Our guess is he won’t – what he said wasn’t Luke-Scott-level inflammatory, and in general, his political views will have nothing to do with his golf commentary. Ultimately, it’s just another reminder how careful one has to be when affiliated with a corporate giant – especially when you’re a lot lower on the network’s broadcasting totem pole than, say, Chris Berman. And especially especially when the corporate giant with which you’re affiliated has, as USA Today’s Michael McCarthy notes, “a good relationship” with the president.