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CBS Fires Vice President Over Horrible Las Vegas Facebook Post

The October 1 massacre that killed over 50 and wounded hundreds more was a national tragedy. Most people were in shock, horrified and saddened by what happened. But CBS senior attorney Hayley Geftman-Gold wasn’t saddened or even sympathetic to the victims, according to a comment she made on Facebook, which was captured and shared by Brandon Morse:

CBS did the right thing and fired Geftman-Gold’s because of her statement that “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans are often republican gun toters.”

In a statement to Fox News, a CBS spokeswoman said that Geftman-Gold “violated the standards of our company and is no longer an employee of CBS. Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the victims in Las Vegas and their families.”

Geftman-Gold released the following statement:

Earlier today I posted an indefensible post in a Facebook discussion thread concerning the tragic Las Vegas shooting, a statement I sincerely regret. I am deeply sorry for diminishing the significance of every life affected by Stephen Paddock’s terrorism last night and for the pain my words have inflicted on the loved ones of the victims. My shameful comments do not reflect the beliefs of my former employer, colleagues, family, and friends. Nor do they reflect my actual beliefs — this senseless violence warrants the deepest empathy. I understand and accept all consequences that my words have incurred.

CBS was correct in acting quickly after a senior person made a horrible statement, even though that statement wasn’t done as part of her job. One of the things you hire an attorney for is her judgment, and this statement showed bad judgment.

There’s No Free Speech at Work

The First Amendment guarantees your right to freedom of expression as far as the government is concerned, but not as far as your employer is concerned. This differs from the NFL protests of the past few weeks in several regards. First, Geftman-Gold wasn’t under a union contract. Second, saying you have no sympathy for shooting victims doesn’t count as political speech. Third, Geftman-Gold doesn’t work in a state that has workplace protection for political speech anyway.

If you say something stupid on social media and it doesn’t meet one of the narrow exceptions, you can expect that your boss will find out about it. (I am not advising managers to spend time following their employees on social media, I am just pointing out that if you are awful, it can get back to your boss.)

Nothing on the Internet is Private

You may think you are chatting with friends, like you would around your dining room table, but the difference is, anyone can take a screenshot at any time, the person who originated the post on Facebook can change the post from private to public at any time, and you can’t possibly know the true feelings of your thousands of social media connections.

With Power Comes Greater Responsibility

Geftman-Gold was a senior attorney at a major media powerhouse, therefore she’s going to be held to a higher standard than the guy who washes your car. That’s just how it is. As you climb the ladder, your actions will be met with higher levels of scrutiny. Beware.

Full disclosure: From 2010 to 2014 I wrote for CBS MoneyWatch as a freelancer.

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