Ashton Kutcher (or @aplusk), one of the first celebrities to use Twitter with a current follower count of 8.2 million, has given up his tweeting rights to his management team after his defense of Joe Paterno turned ugly.
After hearing 84-year-old Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had been fired, Kutcher took to his Twitter to say: How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste.
Then all hell broke loose.
Kutcher faced a barrage of criticism from followers who blasted him for his insensitivity and ignorance, reports CBS News.
Kutcher, who founded the Demi and Ashton (DNA) Foundation with wife Demi Moore to combat child sex slavery, quickly deleted the tweet defending the PSU coach, who was privy to knowledge of sexual abuse against a minor committed by former PSU defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, in 2002.
At first, Ashton offered a lukewarm mea culpa: Heard Joe was fired. Didn't have full story. #admitwhenyoumadeamistake.
Then he deleted that post and began to vehemently apologize for his snafu. As an advocate in the fight against child sexual exploitation, I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case, he tweeted.
Followed by, As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed. I feel awful about this error. Won't happen again.
Well, now it definitely won't happen again because at around 12 p.m., Kutcher announced that he would be handing over the reins of his Twitter account to his management team.
Kutcher linked from his Twitter to his blog, where he wrote a long-winded statement about his error.
Last night after returning home from work I walked by the television and simply saw a headline that Joe Paterno had been fired. Having no more information than that, I assumed that he had been fired due to poor performance as an aging coach.
As a football fan and someone who had watched Joe's career move from that of legend/innovator to a head coach that fullfilled [sic] his duty in the booth, I assumed that the university had let him go due to football related issues. With that assumption (how dare I assume) I posted a tweet defending his career.
I then when about my evening, had some dinner, did a little work, and about an hour later turned on ESPN where I got the full story. I quickly when back on my twitter account and found a hailstorm of responses calling me an idiot and several other explitives [sic] that I've become accustom to hearing for almost anything I post.
I quickly retracted and deleted my previous post, however that didn't seem enough to satisfy peoples [sic] outrage at my misinformed post. I truely [sic] am sorry if I offended anyone and more over am going to take action to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
It was, in short, a public relations nightmare. Here is the founder of an anti-sex trafficking campaign defending one of the individuals at the center of one of the biggest child abuse scandals since the Catholic Church indignities.
Kutcher defended Joe Paterno, who was fired from his position as head coach of the PSU football team, the Nittany Lions.
For most of his career, Paterno was considered among the most respected coaches in college football history. His program was highly regarded for promoting morality and prestige, and for developing players to work hard on and off the field.
Things took an ugly turn for Paterno on Nov. 5, when the Sandusky scandal surfaced. Paterno's relatively spotless image became blemished, as many wondered how such abuse could take place on his watch. In a grand jury report, Sandusky was charged with the sexual abuse of eight minors, and that number may grow as additional alleged victims come forward.
Paterno himself denies knowledge of the explicitness and degree of Sandusky's actions, though he has admitted that he knew Sandusky engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors.