Observations on #savetheintern

If you are reading this post it’s probably because you are interested in a trending hashtag on Twitter – #savetheintern. There have been hundreds of comments, questions,humorous one liners and attempts at satire, as well as a small amount of legitimate journalistic enquiry. To be honest, I haven’t got the spiritual energy to personally reply to them all. So here’s a bullet point list of answers to many of the questions that have been posed, as well as a few things I would like to get of my chest:

1. My intern is a student and paid above the minimum wage.
2. She is contracted for a year to work part time.
3. People have asked why I have not deleted the offending tweet. The reason is simple. It’s impossible to delete anything once it is published on the internet. To do so would just have lead to screen grabs of the offending tweet reaching a wider audience. I’ll delete it later today when the fuss dies down though. So if, for some weird reason, you do want to screen grab the tweet, do so quickly.
4. The Sun political team retweeted the comment. Given the grievance recently taken out against the Sun’s political editor Tom Newton-Dunn, this was foolish.
5. Journalists on the Times have been ringing people to find more information about the intern. Do you think I don’t know your motives? Please show some decorum.
6. Yes, she’s very embarrassed. She’s also a little intimidated by stories of the Times and the Sun trying to dig up stuff about her.
7. Three journalists have asked for more information. I have given them as much as I can whilst protecting the privacy of a young intern who is not seeking a public profile. I was surprised the BBC didn’t phone to check facts before they published their online story.
8. The intern has not been sacked nor was she ever going to be. She’s young. We all make mistakes.
9. I know her well enough to know she’ll never do this sort of thing again.
10. And yes, I know I should have logged out. I really do. Thank you to the people who pointed that out.
11. For those that have asked – all my tweets, other than the two this morning, are my own.
12. Though my account wasn’t technically ‘hacked’, yes, I do understand the irony of what happened.
13. Once again, I am sorry.

On a more serious note, don’t you think this parliamentary answer to a question about data deletion from Tim Loughton MP is unusually constructed?

61 comments ↓

#1 Katie on 01.26.12 at 8:09 pm

I’m really glad you have put the time and effort into writing this and also for sticking up for her.

#2 Toby Pinder on 01.26.12 at 8:09 pm

Very professional.

#3 Barry James on 01.26.12 at 8:13 pm

You remind me of Hugh from The Thick Of It.

#4 ElsieAssap on 01.26.12 at 8:15 pm

I really do not see what the fuss was about, mildly funny, slightly inappropriate…. really not worthy of torches and pitchforks…

Poor girl is going to wake up in a cold sweat tonight..

#5 Peter Jukes on 01.26.12 at 8:16 pm

Complete over-reaction by the press, some perhaps in search of some retribution

I know people are upset by the phraseology, but ‘fraping’ is common term among my kids.

Glad you’re not sacking your intern. The hue and cry by the Sun and The Times is basically looking to damage you by getting you to damage someone else.

End of story

#6 Richard Cain on 01.26.12 at 8:16 pm

Tom,

Whilst it is extremely unlikely I would ever vote Labour, I applaud you for the way you have handled this.

Bravo!

Post the two Eds, I rate you at 11/64 and improving.

#7 James Young on 01.26.12 at 8:18 pm

Tom,

I’m outraged* at your display of common sense and decency and that you haven’t completely overreacted to this but in fact taken a sensible view and course of action.

This is the internet, you’re being too reasonable!

James.

* With this being the internet, I wanted to confirm I’m in fact not outraged and I applaud the common sense approach.

#8 Jessica on 01.26.12 at 8:19 pm

Oh lord poor her, poor you. I’m sure you’ve told her we’ve all done dumb things and it isn’t the end of the world. Tell her I once sent an (pre-email) e-message to my boss by mistake, in which I described what an utter t0sser he was. He forgave me. I kept my job. I never did it again. I still cringe at the memory though. That’s how we learn.

#9 D Hart on 01.26.12 at 8:19 pm

Handled professionally. Well done.

#10 Mark Goodge on 01.26.12 at 8:21 pm

I don’t think you’ve got anything to be sorry for, really. One of the nice things about Twitter et al is that politicians – and interns – can be themselves on there, rather than hiding behind special advisers and media consultants. And if people are being themselves online, then every now and then they’ll do something a bit daft online. That’s just life. We don’t need to turn it into a witch hunt or huge media story every time that happens.

#11 Jilly Bermingham on 01.26.12 at 8:22 pm

A sign of the times that you have to deal with and answer these incidents straight away.

I do know how she feels being investigated by journalists, it happened to me in 1998 and all I was doing was getting married. My comments to your intern is, lesson learnt and these things will pass.

#12 Dan B on 01.26.12 at 8:23 pm

Appreciate the mature (read: non-media) approach to resolving this. We *do* all make mistakes we regret, and it is the people that forgive the singular miscue that gain our lifelong respect. Irony notwithstanding, today’s occurrence has been a real eyeopener in terms of transparency winning the day, the complete converse of recent events in your purvey. Full support to you and your intern, who I hope stays for the full length of what is surely a fruitful internship at the forefront of truthful, energetic politics.

#13 Matt Holland on 01.26.12 at 8:23 pm

Well said. You seem a very compassionate, sensible and mature man.
Please move to Lewes and stand for MP so I can vote for you.
Matt.
@mrmzholland

#14 cathy raats on 01.26.12 at 8:23 pm

Now that a clear explanation has been given I hope both parties are left in peace.

#15 manda on 01.26.12 at 8:24 pm

only someone with zero life could give a damn about this. it’s amazing.

#16 IainMH on 01.26.12 at 8:35 pm

Unfortunate but it’s been handled calmly and appropriately. I hope the intern is going to be supplying Friday donuts/cake tomorrow as penance.

#17 Chris on 01.26.12 at 8:38 pm

Well handled, Tom. Just a bit of fun to keep everyone occupied for an afternoon.

#18 AJ on 01.26.12 at 8:50 pm

Tom can I just say good for you on looking after this young lady and being so understanding.

#19 Gary on 01.26.12 at 8:50 pm

A very honourable response. Good on you.

In all the silly fuss, it might have been missed that point 10 isn’t a mute point. Data security in Government.

#20 Logged In on 01.26.12 at 8:51 pm

Great PR. long day. Fair play Tom.

#21 Andy Shuker on 01.26.12 at 9:27 pm

Good on you Tom – what a sensible and steady response. You are doing good work -Thank you. (Hope she’s feeling OK….)

#22 Artemis on 01.26.12 at 9:33 pm

I am sorry you had to write about this. I am also amused.

#23 Dad Who Writes (Gabriel) on 01.26.12 at 9:45 pm

Well! That’s an honest, forthright answer. Comforted that my Labour membership fee is well spent on at least one Labour politician.

Now if you could talk to that Chuka about the minimum wage because I’m not sure he gets it…

#24 Dominyk Tiller on 01.26.12 at 9:53 pm

Journalists have no right to try and invade someone’s personal life based on one tweet; The Times & the Sun should perhaps look for some actual news to report.

Glad you didn’t fire the intern, We all make these silly misjudgements on Twitter from time to time & her apology was refreshingly hasty & genuine.

Best of luck to your intern for the future.

#25 Hazel on 01.26.12 at 9:59 pm

The phrase ‘Storm in a tea-cup’ springs to mind. The young lady has made a mistake and learnt from it. You have done the decent thing and allowed her to learn from her mistake, and given her the chance to move on.

Perhaps the rest of the world should do the same?

#26 Kiki on 01.26.12 at 10:05 pm

Fair enough. Am surprised that a media student could
make such a basic error but there but the grace of God etc… I am glad the mistakes I made when I was young were not done in front of so many people. Well done for not over reacting – maybe Mr Miliband could learn a thing or two from you before he shouts for the ‘sacking’ of any Coalition Minister as soon as they speak.

#27 Sam Sercombe on 01.26.12 at 10:11 pm

Rock on Tom. We need MP s like you more than ever.

#28 Tim on 01.26.12 at 10:13 pm

Apologies I’m not a huge fan of politicians partly because of the lack of morals however…having read the above , how very refreshing. Not the first to make a mistake but when news is light (Iran, Afghanistan, China ….), its hot gossip…as they say, tomorrows chip wrapper…

Good for you Sir for some common sense and equally balanced response.

..experience comes thro making mistakes after all…

Hopefully we all move on….preferably by tomorrow

#29 Stephanie on 01.26.12 at 11:01 pm

Good response. Glad to see an employer stand by their intern when they make a trending mistake.

#30 Ward on 01.26.12 at 11:26 pm

Perfect response. It’s a shame that Twitter, and somehow the press as well (?!), are so concerned with latching on to inane stories and blowing up fuss about nothing.

This response is exactly what was required, it’s just a shame that a response was required in the first place.

#31 andy loughran on 01.26.12 at 11:40 pm

Weird. Seems like deletion of files has been deprecated in archiving everything for ever. Lovely.

#32 El becario y el diputado | GUERRA ETERNA on 01.26.12 at 11:47 pm

[...] Watson lo cuenta todo en su web, y no se deja nada. De entrada, frente a los que lo dudan en Twitter, dice que la becaria [...]

#33 What not to do as a young intern, working for a MP… « BRACED on 01.26.12 at 11:57 pm

[...] We actually think Tom dealt with this situation rather well. As #savetheintern began to trend, he posted this response – ‘Observations on #savetheintern‘ [...]

#34 gregory mahony on 01.27.12 at 12:00 am

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about? It’s just a silly twitter message.

#35 Karen Davies on 01.27.12 at 12:20 am

Finally! An MP who uses his common sense and power to do something right, good work!
Am I the only one that thinks this thing has been blown out of proportion?
The young girl made a mistake, I’m sure we’ve all been there and done that.
Well done to her boss for sticking up for her and approaching the whole situation with some perspective.

#36 The importance of logging off on 01.27.12 at 1:09 am

[...] for her, the boss has taken a mature attitude towards the problem – there’s many bosses who wouldn’t. So the intern seems safe unless the media can [...]

#37 Chris McCray on 01.27.12 at 1:35 am

Excellent news! I’m glad the trending stats: 0.4% #SaveTheIntern vs 0% #SackTheIntern worked! The graphs are in this @Storify story: http://storify.com/cjjmccray/twitrapegate-1 but you’re probably tired of this by now…

Loughton’s answer is, erm, odd…

“No requests have been made… No requests have been authorised.” – Occam’s razor would excise the latter. He’s waffling – why? I’m suspicious.

The next bit translates as: the department is moving to cloud computing for storage. Who’s running their cloud? Where is it hosted? Is it in the UK or EU or abroad? If abroad: is it secure? What are the DPA and FOIA implications?

The last sentence: moving data into their cloud (see concerns above) and who is doing that and where? How secure is the data transfer facility? What security risks are there and is there a risk mitigation strategy? If an archive is to be created, how will that work – will it be online or require an access request system? Will that be automatic/computerised or manually operated? How long will an archive request take to fulfil? How secure is it? Who’s implementing it?

So many questions!

#38 Paul on 01.27.12 at 4:11 am

… plus she got you trending! Raised your profile a bit. All good!

Nice post. Well done.

#39 notmyrealname on 01.27.12 at 8:15 am

i once made a big mistake as an intern. it seems like the end of the world at the time.

#40 Bill Jowett (Conservative!) on 01.27.12 at 9:33 am

Good comments throughout!

#41 Joshua Fenton-Glynn on 01.27.12 at 10:16 am

I think you’ve dealt with this honourably, hope your intern is okay and the Murdoch press don’t project their frustration of being held to account on a young woman.

This instance has gone on my updated social media guidance for beginners.

#42 #savetheintern – a small big story on the brits, social media and political communication | Digitale tanker fra hverdagen on 01.27.12 at 11:26 am

[...] of humor. He has replied to all the fuss his intern + twitter + the british media had created in an excellent (and very dry humored) blogpost containing: “a bullet point list of answers to many of the questions that have been posed, as [...]

#43 The Waitrose Count Affair…… – peejayblog on 01.27.12 at 11:38 am

[...] 27/01/2012>  I thought it worth updating this post to include a link to Tom Watson’s blog where he addresses the issue in a very professional manner indeed.  Have a read, it dovetails very [...]

#44 Twitter: Power of the People. Firefly reflects on lessons learnt for public relations people and agencies | Firefly Communications - PR agency on 01.27.12 at 11:56 am

[...] McDonalds, LA Fitness, even Tom Watson’s intern have all been the source of Twitter backlash this week. What’s next and what will we continue to [...]

#45 Dan Jones on 01.27.12 at 12:25 pm

Tom,

I think you’ve handled this with a great deal of tact and common sense, good for you. I would like to see how the media try to twist this non-story into something senational.

Plus you’ve got about 1000 extra Twitter followers, so it’s turned out quite well!

#46 cyberdoyle on 01.27.12 at 12:36 pm

I saw the tweet go out. I smiled. I saw the apology follow. I smiled. I saw your response. I smiled and applauded. You understand. We understand. We just wait until the press et al finally figure out what twitter and life is about.
Patience.
Good that you say sorry, good that she said sorry. But really nothing to apologise for other than being alive and being human. Some of the folk jumping on the bandwagon of criticism really need to get real.
Kudos to you and your intern. Live long and prosper.

#47 Watch on 01.27.12 at 12:48 pm

Tom, do you support “a bid to provide basic social media and online engagement training to MPs”?

http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/digital-pledges/

#48 Thayer Prime on 01.27.12 at 1:51 pm

Spot on reply Tom, and very well handled. I particularly like point 8, shows wisdom and empathy where a lot of folks wouldn’t have been so objective. Bravo.

#49 H+K Strategies UK's Blog » Blog Archive » Web Curios on 01.27.12 at 3:02 pm

[...] we near the end of the first month of 2012 – WELL DONE US. Except that Italian captain. And Tom Watson’s intern. And all those naive enough to believe that the SOPA/PIPA thing has gone away (if those words mean [...]

#50 Georgina Laming on 01.27.12 at 3:04 pm

A very mature reaction to what has become a twitter phenomenon. The movement from being a student, to an intern, to a real job is often hard.

I am an intern for another Labour MP and would hope the same courtesy you have given this intern would be given to me if I did the same.

#51 Jon on 01.27.12 at 3:24 pm

A balanced and reasonable response from Mr Watson. Fair play to him for protecting the young intern. It was a bit of a joke, ill-thought- but a joke none the less. I am far more offended by those trying to make this a bigger story than it is, than the tweets specific phrases itself.

Leave the young lady alone. And I would say that wether she worked for a Tory or Labour MP.

#52 Frank Kyle on 01.27.12 at 3:27 pm

Proof positive that the whole political scene in Britain is a pantomime prescribed by Banks and monied elites. Go and read David Icke, Jordan Maxwell or Michael Tsarion to see how these soap operatics are keeping you all enslaved.

#53 Rob8urcakes on 01.27.12 at 4:08 pm

I don’t see why you apologised Tom. There’s plenty of genuine fun to be had in the realm of politics and this ‘incident’ was clearly one of them.

The shame lies with those who thought there was more to gain (eg Murdoch’s paid-for puppets perhaps?) and it’s THEY who should be apologising.

btw, if your obviously intelligent and thoroughly decent intern with the great sense of humour wants to disappear to Scotland for a weekend break just tweet me @Rob8urcakes and I’ll make sure she’s well protected and looked after – no joke either Tom.

Rob
(a long-time admirer)

#54 Dino on 01.27.12 at 4:19 pm

How do we know this intern even exists?

#55 27° January | Huff Po | Napster | Moo.com | Facebook | Wikipedia | The 6 Degrees Blog on 01.27.12 at 6:28 pm

[...] which then turned into Twitter backlash and also prompting the trend #savetheintern. However praise has been handed to Tom Watson who has handled the incident with the following blog post. [...]

#56 kate on 01.27.12 at 8:01 pm

hi Tom
I look after social media for my (city based) business. I can only hope we are as level headed and pragmatic as you are should a similar situation occur. Well done!

#57 Is your Twitter account sending Spam DMs? | Making Hay on 01.29.12 at 11:16 am

[...] any compromising information, you don’t want to be one of those embarrassed by the wrong (or even the right) people using your [...]

#58 branchenergy on 01.29.12 at 8:10 pm

My admiration of you just grows and grows.
Excellent response by yourself.

btw – I understand the # re the Hillsborough 96 is JFT96

Shalom/peace/pace/paz

@branchenergy

#59 Law and Media Round Up – 30 January 2012 « Inforrm's Blog on 01.30.12 at 1:10 am

[...] to report that Tom Watson’s intern had naively tweeted a joke about “twit-rape”. On his blog, Watson questioned the Sun’s political account (@sun_politics) decision to re-tweet the [...]

#60 Is being ‘stupid’ the new ‘cool’? Drawing comparisons from TOWIE and Made in Chelsea on 02.15.12 at 3:16 pm

[...] can make you popular.  Interestingly, in reaction to #savetheintern, Tom Watson confirmed on his blog this evening that the intern would not be fired. Maybe that wouldn’t be [...]

#61 Seven social media headlines of 2012 and what they teach us | Reynolds PR on 12.28.12 at 9:24 pm

[...] logged into Twitter. His intern noticed and tweeted from his account using an inappropriate term. A Twitterstorm ensued. The hashtag #Savetheintern was trending where people felt the intern shouldn’t be [...]

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