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Firing Tara Thorne for one bad tweet is unfair

Tara Thorne. Photo Richard Lann

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Arts reporters and columnists are getting awfully scarce in Nova Scotia, and good ones like Tara Thorne, who as a matter of course drew attention to the new rather than the already established, even more so.

But it seems CBC Nova Scotia fired her. Thorne had posted a hurtful and very bad joke tweet about a son of Stephen McNeil, right after the premier announced his departure from politics. That was wrong, and she deleted the tweet and apologized. 

I am not saying that should have been the end of the story. We always need to be aware of the harm we can inflict, especially if we have a large social media platform, and especially also if the target is an innocent bystander. A more reflective apology would be good.

But I am saying that firing Thorne on the spot for one bad joke tweet is excessive, and the CBC should reconsider, putting in the balance her many years of excellent arts coverage. 

How easily Thorne was fired accentuates the precarious existence of freelance journalists in this province. Even after a professional relationship of many years with the CBC it seems you don’t have any rights to due process.

There’s a double standard in Nova Scotia society, one that allows a man found guilty of domestic abuse to resume his job as Liberal spokesperson, yet that punishes one bad tweet with the loss of what must have been a major source of income for a female freelance journalist.  

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20 Comments

  1. I’m happy to see her go as she rarely mentioned the classical music scene in Halifax. Maybe CBC will replace her with someone with broader musical interests and expertise.

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  2. There’s also a double standard that it’s ok to make fun of white men. Imagine a man making the comment about say, the daughter of a woman politician – I’ll say Lenore Zann who doesn’t have kids – there would be hell to pay. Why do we think there are no consequences as employees of corporations that have contracts with employees about their conduct? It’s not surprising at all.

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    1. You would be wrong.
      Lenore Zann has written articles etc on what is has been said to her personally and those men suffer no consequences at all.
      Men get away with this stuff all the time and it’s just oh boys will be boys, he’s harmless, etc etc.

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  3. Having never made a mistake myself, I still stand by Tara Thorne! She’s an amazing arts reporter and always carries it off with her unique sense of humour. REHIRE TARA!!!

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  4. “Thorne had posted a hurtful and very bad joke tweet about a son of Stephen McNeil,” Really? Did you read the tweet? Go read it and then consider, would you want your child to read the tweet? The tweet was inappropriate, it was disgusting, it was unkind. Whether it was hurtful is up to Stephen MacNeil’s family to determine. As a representative of the CBC, her public choices, just like Stephen MacNeil, are held to a higher standard. Do not rehire Tara Thorne. And I absolutely agree with S Nowlan. Very onesided view of entertainment.

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    1. The Premier should never have mentioned adult children when resigning. It was not appropriate. He acted as if he was going to play catch with his son. A joke.

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    2. Also, one sided view of entertainment?
      Its called a bias.
      We all got ’em.
      Tara is one person. She is not responsible to cater to yours, or anyones particular entertainment needs.

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  5. All the people complaining about her getting fired over a tweet are the same people that try to cancel celebs, musicians, and comics over single tweets.

    I don’t believe she should be fired. And I also don’t agree with the cancel culture that has taken over twitter.

    Be consistent.

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  6. “But it seems CBC Nova Scotia fired her. Thorne had posted a hurtful and very bad joke tweet about a son of Stephen McNeil, right after the premier announced his departure from politics. That was wrong, and she deleted the tweet and apologized.”

    The tweet you’re referencing here wasn’t just hurtful, it was a huge breach of privacy involving sex life. Her first of two apologies wasn’t much of an apology: “I deleted my funny but divisive tweet because it was reflecting badly on some of the people I work with.”

    This article doesn’t mention that she also tweeted “Bye b***h” regarding McNeil’s departure. How would you react if someone called a female premier you supported a “b***h” and then posted something as humiliating about that premier’s daughter?

    Do you know if that tweet was the only reason why she no longer works there? Have you seen her other tweets?

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  7. Tara Thorne, unlike the “regular staffers” such as Louise Renault, Preston Mulligan and Portia Clark, is not represented by a union. Thorne is a freelancer — yet has been a weekly on-air presenter at the CBC for many years. My guess is if she had been in the union, she would have received a warning and told the next time she did this kind of thing, she’d be dismissed. Even if she had been dismissed, her union might have helped her fight to get her job back. Thorne is part of the “gig” economy which means she had almost no job security. That’s not right — for her and other freelancers. It’s not fair to fire her for one offence– in years of good service. .

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  8. I am probably in the minority, but I thought the tweet was kind of funny. Sure it was at someone else’s expense, but humourists have a long tradition of meeting disrespectful behaviour with lampooning and irreverent humour.

    Tara’s mistake was targeting a politician’s son, a person who did not sign up to have a public persona, for while his apparently predictable and repetitive sexual efforts may have resulted in predictable, repetitive and evidently audible vocalizations from his paramour, those excited or perhaps forced utterances were an impediment to the quiet enjoyment of Tara’s personal space. Had she left her commentary in her personal space, she would have suffered no repercussions, but she dragged the lamentable sexual effluent of a personal figure into the public sphere where it comingled with her public persona and the public persona of those she represents.

    McNeil’s son is an off-limits target, not as the son of a powerful politician, but as a person who does not have a public persona. The consequences of her actions were both predictable and preventable.

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  9. The purpose of her tweet was to embarrass, shame or humiliate another person/people. She has no business in typing this on a social media platform. It was mean to do it and now she has to face the consequences of her actions. For people defending her, stop and think about how you would feel if it was your own son or daughter or even yourself.

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  10. It’s bizarre that so many people are coming out to support Thorne, here. She used her public platform in an attempt to shame a politician’s son (and his partner) for having loud sex. Then, instead of apologizing, she made it clear that she didn’t think she did anything wrong, calling the tweet “funny but divisive” and reiterating that she’s happy not to live in that building anymore. In what world does a journalist think this won’t get them fired, or at least reprimanded? I’m unemployed and I know better than to say like this on social media.

    Tara Thorne is not the victim in this story, the McNeils and her neighbor are.

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  11. While I did not think that Tara Thorne’s tweet was either funny or appropriate, I think that being fired from CBC is excessive. Wendy Mesley was not fired for using the “n” word, which was a lot worse.

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  12. How rich is it that the advocates of cancel culture change their mind when it’s one of their own. I for one do not think she should have been fired, but the NS advocate and its target readership are the heroes of cancelling, censorship a so forth, perhaps this can act as a lesson. Nobody is perfect, and the standard against people are judged often changes. Those who choose to live by this sword deserve to die by it.

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  13. If eighteen comments carry any significance [total number of customers with masks on allowed in The Dollar Store at a given time] then I suppose this matters. To any media source……nobody cares.

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  14. Forgiven for one bad tweet. Would you not say then that Don Cherry didn’t deserve to be fired for one bad comment? I feel you’ll say no, simply because Thorne is a darling of the progressives while Cherry isn’t. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

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