NBC is not having a good run with their on-air personalities. You would have imagined that a strongly worded email went around to staff in the aftermath of the Billy Bush fiasco, but if it did, Katie Rich wasn’t paying attention.

The 33-year-old is a writer for the network’s long-running comedy sketch show, Saturday Night Live. Now, Rich is in the eye of a social media storm after a hugely distasteful tweet about Barron Trump, Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son.

"Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter". 

Critics have expressed their disgust that Rich would mock a child, and said that there is nothing funny about cyber bulling and nothing funny about America’s school shootings.

As the uproar at the writer’s unfunny joke on social media grew, Rich deleted the tweet and switched her account to private, before deleting the account altogether some time later. This has done little to quell public anger at her, at the show and at the network, particularly since as of now, Rich has not issued any kind of apology.

Many twitter users are calling for a boycott on SNL unless Rich is fired, but so far there has been silence from the network on the matter.

Conservatives have attacked the hypocrisy of the liberal left, who often use Michelle Obama’s mantra “When they go low, you go high”, while many on the left have also tweeted support for Trump’s young son, saying children should never be the target of such ‘jokes’.

Mistakes NBC made in handling this social media crisis

  • They left it too late to respond

Time is of the essence in dealing with a social media crisis. NBC should be well aware of how these things can spiral after Billy Bush’s involvement with Trump’s “Grab’em by the p*ssy” moment. As of now, it’s been more than 48 hours since the crisis broke, and NBC have not yet issued a statement. This is not good enough. Any apology or action that comes at this point will seem empty.

  • They let SNL keep tweeting

Even as hundreds of tweets were coming in criticising the show and the network, demanding that Katie Rich be fired and suggesting a boycott of the show, @nbcsnl continued tweeting about Aziz Ansari’s appearance on the show as though nothing was happening; giving the impression that they are either ignorant of or unconcerned with the public’s fury about the issue.

  • They don’t have the right training in place 

For an organisation that’s home to a lot of public figures, it doesn’t seem like NBC provides adequate training to their employees, and in particular their on-air personalities, on how to behave on the job and on social media. A mandatory, company-wide sensitivity training should be on the cards at this point.

What could NBC have done differently?

Well, they should have quickly released a prompt statement distancing themselves from the tweet. They should have also promised to look into what happened, and follow up as necessary; we talk about this as 'creating a holding statement for the media'. They should definitely have a crisis management plan in place (I've written a lot of these...!), and they should run simulations once a quarter to make sure that they’re prepared when the real thing happens.

So - what do you think? Should Katie Rich lose her job? Or is NBC responsible? 


Sophie AttwoodComment