Dr. Phil McGraw's daytime talk show issued an apology on Wednesday for a tweet sent from Dr. Phil McGraw's verified Twitter account soliciting opinions on teen sex.
"This tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic based upon a recent news story," the show said in a statement. "It was a poll question, not a statement or a joke."
The statement continued:
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. As you can imagine, Dr. Phil is very upset that this happened.
The tweet, sent late Tuesday afternoon to the self-help guru's 1.1 million-plus followers, asked, “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil." It included the hashtag "#teensaccused.”
The tweet was met with immediate outrage for the daytime talk show host's suggestion that the idea of having sex with an intoxicated teenage girl without her consent is up for debate.
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) August 20, 2013
— Andy Levy (@andylevy) August 20, 2013
.@DrPhil - here's a hint; if you wouldn't want it done to yourself, your child, or your loved ones, IT IS NOT OKAY. Also, you're a moron.
— Sarah H. (@LostInHeadSpace) August 21, 2013
— Christopher Sebela (@xtop) August 21, 2013
Before the controversial tweet was deleted, a spokesperson for Dr. Phil's show issued a statement:
This tweet was intended to evoke discussion leading into a very serious show topic. It was not intended to be taken lightly. It's based upon a recent news story, hence the #teensaccused label.
The apology follows a demand for one from a Change.org petition that demanded Dr. Phil "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 while they are unable to consent.”