Now Hiring: The “ScapeTern”


This week we saw Senator Ted Cruz blame a staff member for a pornographic video being “liked” by his Twitter account.

It’s time for management, politicians, and brands to take responsibility for actions that occur on their social sites regardless of whether they personally manage the platforms or not.

The issue of blaming the intern or junior staff members must stop. We see this over and over, and over, and over again. A colleague of mine and I were having this conversation the other day. Blaming the intern is far too common today. It’s become so common that Talking Points Memo’s editor Josh Marshall even gave it a name: the “scapetern.”

Prior to entering academia, I worked in corporate America. I managed people. At the end of the day, I was responsible for everything they did. If a mishap occurred, especially with an intern who is still learning, I would have shouldered the brunt of the fallout.

Back in 2012 when a KitchenAid staff member tweeted from the company’s official account “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’.” Cynthia Soledad, the Senior Director for the KitchenAid brand at the time, not only apologized to President Obama but also took responsibility for her team member’s mistake as any good manager should.

Cynthia Soledad told Mashable in an e-mail:

During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out.

See how she did that? Easy as pie. Take a page out of her management playbook. Heck, use her words exactly:“I take responsibility for the whole team.”

Plain and simple: It’s unethical and cowardly to blame an intern or a junior employee.



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