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Baseball Players Issue Apologies Over Old Offensive Tweets That Resurfaced


Today's lesson in everything on the Internet lives forever comes courtesy of Major League Baseball. Sean Newcomb, Trea Turner, Josh Hader - they are all pro baseball players in their mid-20s. And each of them has had to apologize over the past two weeks for homophobic and racist tweets they sent back when they were in high school. Lauren Walsh is a brand strategist. She works with professional athletes. She's here to talk more about it. Welcome to the program.

LAUREN WALSH: Hi, Audie. Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: So just so we're clear - are any of these players clients of yours?

WALSH: They are not.

CORNISH: OK. You sound relieved. OK.


WALSH: Of course.

CORNISH: So we learned of you from reading an Associated Press story about this, so we know you have some thoughts. If you have a 25-year-old client, who is new, basically do you just say out of the gate go clean your social media posts?

WALSH: Yes, for anyone. Anyone that we work with, that's actually the first step that we take - is we go through every single account that they have ever had and look at every single post that they've ever put up since the inception of the account.

CORNISH: Is deleting enough? I mean, I feel like you can find anything on the Internet, especially stuff that maybe is forgotten.

WALSH: You can. A lot of times - and people even, you know, these days will take screenshots. However, you just have to do what is in your control. So you have to hope that, you know, deleting is enough. But also we asked the questions of, you know, do you have people out there who maybe have a vengeance against you? You know, past relationships - is there anyone else that we need to speak with where, somewhere down the line, something could come up?

CORNISH: In the world of sports, everyone's got rivals. So that seems like a tall order.

WALSH: It is. It is. It definitely is, and you never know how it's going to come out. But the thing is it's about being prepared. So that when it comes out, you have a plan. And that's typically what we try to do is we will ask our clients and say, just be honest with us. Is there anyone out there who may have something on you and would they have a reason to bring it to light? And if they say yes, we're going to dig into it. And we're going to actually have an action plan. You know, it may - we may keep it away, and it may never have to be used, but there is a plan in place that we can get ahead of that issue as soon as it comes out.

CORNISH: OK, so that's how you advise people. In the meantime, do you think there should be a kind of statute of limitations on some of these tweets? You know, some of these players have said, look, I was young. I was stupid. You know, I was kidding, and I was a kid. Should they be held to account for things they did when they were teens?

WALSH: Here's the thing. It comes down to, who are they today? If they are a different person - because for a lot of them, it was honestly seven, eight, you know, nine years ago - then you have to give them a little bit of the benefit of the doubt because we all were different people back then. However, if their actions today are still reflecting things that they put out back then, then of course they absolutely need to be held accountable to all of that.

CORNISH: We know that there are young people, for instance, who try and keep their Facebook clean, so to speak, because they know that colleges might be looking at their, you know, social media. Do you think young athletes have felt the same way? I mean, is this them kind of catching up to their peers?

WALSH: I actually think that it hasn't really come across as strongly as it should. I'm hoping that seeing the consequences that these athletes are facing that it will. However, I still think a lot of these young athletes think that they're invincible, or they also think, you know, who am I? You know, I'm a high-school student athlete. I'm not a professional athlete. Who cares what I put out there? So hopefully it starts to ring true, but I also want to put a little bit of onus on the coaches and on the staff and the people who are viewed as, you know, leaders and the people around them who are setting the example, to have them push a little bit harder and say, look, it doesn't just matter what you put out today. It's something that could come out 10, 15, 20 years from now and have an effect on you.

CORNISH: Lauren Walsh is the president and CEO of LW Branding, a PR sports agency. Thanks so much.

WALSH: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF WES MONTGOMERY'S "BUMPIN' ON SUNSET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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