The Des Moines Register has fired the journalist behind a controversial report on Carson King, the sports fan who raised over $1.7 million for charity with a plea for beer money, after offensive tweets by the reporter surfaced.
Editor Carol Hunter wrote about the paper’s decision in a lengthy post on Thursday night, stating that the reporter, Aaron Calvin, “is no longer with the Register.”
King went viral earlier this month after he displayed a sign on ESPN’s ‘College Game Day’ requesting Venmo donations to re-stock his “Busch Light Supply,” and ultimately racked up nearly $2 million in contributions. Not content to keep the money for himself, King offered to donate the funds to a local children’s hospital, which was soon matched by beer maker Anheuser-Busch. But King’s new-found fame would soon veer toward infamy.
In penning a profile on King for the Register, Calvin dug up racist internet posts that the sports fan had made as a teenager, but many readers reacted with anger, demanding to know why the Register transformed a story about charitable giving into another racism witch hunt.
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Though King said he regrets the racist posts and noted that the Register had been “nothing but kind” while covering his story, many readers persisted in their complaints to the newspaper.
Launching its own probe into the matter following the public reaction, the Register eventually found that the reporter in question had his own history with inappropriate tweets. Calvin soon deleted the posts and apologized for not holding himself “to the same high standards as the Register holds others,” but that apparently did not prevent the termination of his employment.
Retweet! Busch cut ties with Carson King after a tweet was outed by the The Des Moines Register from when he was 16 years old (8 yrs ago) by reporter, Aaron Calvin. This is just ridiculous! Raised $1.4 million for the Children’s Hospital and you have to try to ruin the cause. pic.twitter.com/6CqLu7wKot
— Evan McCallister (@Ev_McCallister) September 25, 2019
Does Des Moines Register have any comment on these? pic.twitter.com/5gyY7VZC7d
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) September 25, 2019
“Employees of the Register are vetted through typical employment screening methods, which can include a review of past social media activity, but the screening processes did not surface those tweets,” Hunter wrote in Thursday’s post.
Some readers were not satisfied with the decision, however, observing that the Register offered no apology in its long explanatory post, with one user accusing the paper of throwing its reporter “under the bus” while failing to hold editors accountable.
The correct way to go about this would be an unconditional apology to King & firing the reporter. You did one of those things and it was still the wrong decision.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) September 27, 2019
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