And just like that, "Cancel Culture" claims another scalp.
Rather than simply apologize for their egregious blunder earlier this week, the Des Moines Register has reportedly parted ways with the reporter who dug up 8-year-old “offensive” tweets by an Iowa man who’d raised over $1 million for a children’s hospital after Twitter users pointed out his own string of racist social media posts.
According to this, Aaron Calvin, who first exposed Carson King’s old tweets in his story on how Kind had donated his beer money to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, is no longer with the Register after readers exposed his old tweets showing him using the term “gay” as a pejorative and making a whole slew of racist jokes and disparaging remarks about women. While it’s not clear if Calvin was fired or if he quit, the paper did put out a statement on the matter, saying they took “appropriate action” after learning about Calvin’s own social media history.
"We took appropriate action because there is nothing more important in journalism than having readers' trust," Executive Editor Carol Hunter said in an opinion piece published by the paper.
"We're revising our policies and practices, including those that did not uncover our own reporter's past inappropriate social media postings,” she continued, adding, "That reporter is no longer with the Register.”
The Des Moines Register came under heavy fire late Tuesday after the paper ran a story smearing 24-year-old college student Carson King, who just donated more than $1 million to a children’s hospital, for racially-charged social media posts he made when he was 16.
It all started when King held up a sign on ESPN’s “College GameDay” asking for Venmo donations to fund for his “Busch Light Supply.” Thousands of people responded to the joking request. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, King pledged to donate the money to a local children’s hospital rather than use it to buy beer, prompting Anhueser-Busch and Venmo to say they’d match the donations. Altogether, King raised more than $1.1 million for the hospital.
But it wasn’t long before Calvin, the reporter who’d been assigned to write a profile on King for the Des Moines Register, dug up King’s old tweets – tweets that had nothing to do with his charitable donation, but which the Register decided to include in their story nonetheless.
In response to the ridiculous “controversy,” Anheuser-Busch announced they’d ended their intended partnership with King, pulling the associated T-shirts they’d already put up in their online store (the proceeds from which had been promised to the children’s hospital). The company did promise they’d still match King’s donation to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
At the time, Hunter defended her paper’s decision to post the nearly decade-old tweets, writing in an editor’s note that “The jokes were highly inappropriate and were public posts. Shouldn’t that be acknowledged to all the people who had donated money to King’s cause or were planning to do so?”
“The counter arguments: The tweets were posted seven years ago, when King was 16. And he was remorseful. Should we chalk up the posts to a youthful mistake and omit the information?”
“Eventually, Register editors decided we would include the information, but at the bottom of the story,” she said. “We thought we should be transparent about what we had found, but not highlight it at the top of the story or as a separate story.”
In her most recent explainer briefly detailing Calvin's departure from the paper, Hunter again defended her publication's decision to include King's old tweets in their original story, saying that "As journalists, we have the obligation to look into matters completely, to aid the public in understanding the people we write about and in some cases to whom money is donated."
It appears only some lessons have been learned.