Jul 30, 2018

The big picture: Terrible teen tweets haunt athletes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner issued a statement Sunday night apologizing for offensive tweets that were uncovered from 2011 and 2012, becoming the third Major League Baseball player this month to face the consequences of their unsavory digital footprints, ESPN reports.

Why it matters: For the first time, professional athletes are growing up to face a world where their thoughts and opinions as teenagers are forever preserved in cyberspace. As these scandals increase in frequency, so too will the recognition that 140 characters is more than enough to derail a budding career.

What's happening:

  • The 25-year-old Turner was 18 when he tweeted homophobic slurs and a racially insensitive joke from a movie. He deleted the tweets after they resurfaced and said in his statement, "[T]hose regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am."
  • Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb was cruising through a near no-hitter Sunday when fans resurfaced offensive tweets from when he was 18. He called reporters back into the clubhouse after the game to apologize, and has been ordered to undergo diversity training.
  • Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader will also face diversity training after fans discovered old tweets laced with the n-word halfway through his All Star Game appearance. Nearly a week later, Hader is still in apology mode.

NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra notes that the fallout from each case follows a predictable pattern: a PR-dictated apology, a statement that the posts don't reflect that person's current views, and league-mandated sensitivity training — which ends up coming off as more of a punitive measure than an exercise of real value.

And this issue goes well beyond the sports world.

  • James Gunn was fired from his role shepherding Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise earlier this month due to offensive tweets.
  • Claudia Oshry's "Girl With No Job" show was cancelled by Verizon's Oath earlier this year after a Daily Beast reporter dug up old Twitter posts expressing clear anti-Muslim sentiments.
  • Even journalists have had to temper their opinions online at the risk of damaging their own careers.

What to expect, from Axios' Sara Fischer: "More users are flocking to ephemeral social media networks, where posts disappear after a certain amount of time, as a result."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 1,579,690 — Total deaths: 94,567 — Total recoveries: 346,780Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 452,582 — Total deaths: 16,129 — Total recoveries: 24,790Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  5. World latest: Boris Johnson is moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  6. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

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The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.

Reports: Saudi Arabia and Russia reach major deal to cut oil production

Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of the OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.