I thought video games might offer respite from the ongoing Donald Sterling media frenzy, but that wasn’t the case. Josh Olin, community manager and eSports manager at Turtle Rock Studios, lost his job after some controversial Sterling-related comments.
On Wednesday he tweeted:
“Here’s an unpopular opinion: Donald Sterling has the right as American to be an old bigot in the security of his own home. He’s a victim.”
You can imagine how quickly several of his 142,000 Twitter followers objected. Within 24 hours, Turtle Rock had relieved him of his duties. Olin tried to clarify that he wasn’t defending Sterling, but expressing worries about sensational media and violation of privacy. The thing is, companies generally like their PR people to keep their heads down and not incite controversy. It’s close to impossible to get anything resembling an opinion, especially a controversial one, out of a good PR person. On a bad day for the company it’s hard to get the actual facts, let alone the PR person’s take on them.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve kept my loud mouth and keyboard on the journalism side of things. I enjoy the freedom to ask in public what the heck I just witnessed, and being encouraged to do so. The message boards are full of people who think Turtle Rock overreacted, but companies always act in what they feel is their own best interest. Executives at Turtle Rock didn’t expect they’d have to weigh on Donald Sterling this week anymore than I did.
As we’ve seen time and again, Twitter’s 140 characters isn’t enough for context. It’s room for a link, a quick joke or to let followers know you’re the new mayor of Krispy Kreme on Foursquare. It’s a poor place for debate, but as we’re learning it’s a great place to put yourself out of a job.