Young guy in his 20s raises $1 million as a charitable contribution to a Children’s Hospital and the Des Moines Register thought it necessary to question him for two Tweets he wrote when he was 16 years old, which he says were direct quotes from a Comedy Central TV show. Consequently, the charitable fundraising was stopped and his corporate sponsors abandoned him. Actual children will now be hurt because of journalism’s need to twist a positive story into a negative.
But this one comes with a twist – the reporter’s own Tweets were far more vile than the two tweets of a teen.
That’s when Des Moines Register reporter Aaron Calvin set out to profile King — and found two offensive tweets the 24-year-old had sent when he was 16.
That discovery has now sparked an acrimonious conflict, as King quickly lost his partnership with Anheuser-Busch, and the Des Moines Register scrambled to explain its decision to report on the old tweets in the first place — particularly after critics Tuesday turned up multiple offensive tweets once sent by Calvin [the reporter], forcing the paper to open a new investigation into its own reporter.
The reporter engaged in “cherry picking” – finding two negative tweets in more than 8 years of Twitter use by the subject. Potentially numerous positive tweets were ignored by Aaron Colvin, the reporter to provide context or that the subject had matured. Because the whole point of pseudo news reporting is “gotcha”.
(I’m so old I remember just yesterday how it was inappropriate to question the motives of 16 year olds!)
The reporter’s own tweet history showed highly offensive commentary about blacks, women, gays and police officers. Highly offensive. Before the reporter shut down his Twitter account, many captured his past comments and shared them on other social media. These tweets were allegedly written by the reporter who complained about others’ tweets – because he admits to having since deleted his past tweets and protected his account, these reports from others cannot now be verified.
This one is particularly vile and if true, might suggest a criminal investigation of the reporter.
The Des Moines Register thought it made sense to dig up the old tweets of a teen yet had not checked the past social media of their own reporter who twatted away more offensively as an adult? Worse, the Register said checking the social media of subjects is “routine” – but apparently not that of their own reporters? Double standard anyone?
What compelled the Des Moines Register to take a fantastic good news story and twist into something negative?
The reporter has now deleted his own racist, sexist, homophobic, anti history and changed his Twitter account to Protected because its all different when he does it:
As to the Des Moines Register, I checked their Facebook page – there were over 14,000 comments, all in opposition to the Register, and many saying they are canceling their subscriptions.
As Warren Buffet has noted, it can take 20 years to build a brand reputation but just five minutes to destroy it. Congratulations journalists!
In one of life’s mysteries, journalists remain utterly perplexed why people don’t like them …
The Des Moines Registers published a “Letter to the Editor” echoing our comments on negativity:
“I am so disappointed by the negativity in your recent article about Carson King.
Despite the defense of your actions, it is clear that you made the conscious choice to report controversy and negativity.”
Further down the Letters section is another letter blasting them on a different topic but for the same reasons: “Why not focus on positive stories?”
Only a day earlier, the Washington Post wrote it is inappropriate to question the background or motives of 16 years olds, especially Greta Thunberg. Double standards anyone?
Update 2: Des Moines Register is Backpedaling
- Aaron Calvin, the reporter, has been fired for violating the publisher’s policy on use of social media.
- They admit they did not routinely and thoroughly check the social media of their employees but did routinely run background checks on subjects appearing in the paper’s creative writing exercises.
- Criminal records for those under age 18 are not public; but tweets are! Thus, the media can ignore past criminal records but not social media posts. Face palm moment.
- No one at the paper has apologized or acknowledged they had bad judgement, and none of the management (editors) who created the flawed employee/hire process, or who thought it appropriate to criticize someone for two offensive tweets quoting Comedy Central when he was age 16 have been impacted.
- The paper was also mad that after questioning King about his tweets, he in turn went public, ruining their “gotcha scoop”. Their non-apology blames King for their reporting.
- The paper described Carson King’s tweets as “racists” but described their own reporter’s extremely vile tweets as merely “inappropriate” and “questionable”.
- They now say there is “nothing more important in journalism than having readers trust” but has no idea how to engage the trust of their readers. Just check the commentary on their own social media pages.
- Unlike the Des Moines Register, Carson King accepted full responsibility for his two tweets from when he was 16 years old, and apologized.
- The media have no idea why so many despise them. They remain remarkably out of touch.