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PR Fail: Dr Phil's 'Drunk Sex Tweet' is Not Good Bedside Manner
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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In Celebrityville, people seem to be made of the same stuff that makes Superman so hard to kill. I don't know if it's a balanced diet of Wheaties sprinkled with the same stuff Alex Rodriguez uses. Whatever the reason, they are untouchable...at least, Dr. Phil McGraw used to be that way. And then — like so many before him — found his Kryptonite via Twitter. Dr. Phil often takes to Twitter and asks his oodles of fans about themes on upcoming shows, and one didn't go over so well. (Note the picture).

He asks, "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @DrPhil. #teensaccused." 

Then, his wholesome image took a death blow as Change.org created a petition against said tweet. Carmen Rios, a former college sexual assault activist, started the petition and penned these thoughts: 

Even though he took the tweet down, Dr. Phil should of course admit his error in judgement. But he needs to go a step further. I am asking Dr. Phil to produce a show that shines a light on survivors of rape and sexual assault and begin a national conversation about the specifics of consent — which includes not raping people when they are drunk or otherwise unable to consent. 

Of course that moment of harsh reality didn't stop the professional and armchair comedians of the Twitterverse (excluding Yours Truly...follow me if you will) as the onslaught to Dr. Phil's pristine, post-Oprah image took several fatal blows with the national trend #DrPhilQuestions. It was swift, immediate, directed shame, soon-after deleted and, at times, a skosh funny. Of course, Dr. Phil not being a stranger to the legalese statement has produced one on this #PRFail issue [cue talking head]:

"This Tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label," the statement read. "As he has maintained over many years, Dr. Phil believes that the position of those incapacitated in any fashion; be it drugs, alcohol, age or mental illness can not and do not have the capacity to give their consent to anything, especially sex, which could have life changing repercussions. This was a research post in preparation for a show, not a personal post, and Dr. Phil deleted it the second he saw it. It was clearly ill-advised. We sincerely apologize that it suggested anything other than what was intended, data gathering."

Sweet, but ineffective. On Twitter, the damage is done. Unless you are a nobody like me without a national brand and TV show, you can't "just tweet." You must think about inferences from the masses. You have to consider the people who mean to do you harm and what they can twist like taffy. I mean, let's be honest, do you know ANYONE outside of a lifetime sentence in prison who would say, "Sure. Why not?" It was a bad question asked in a forum oozing with snarky predators waiting to pounce on a piece of slightly-encrusted Angus steak like that. 

I'm certain Dr. Phil will rebound. I'm sure his show will go on. As for his Twitter account, Mrs. McGraw may take over the transcribing from now on. Just saying. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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