Backlash keeps escalating after hypocritical newspaper killed do-gooder story over old tweets

Screengrab ESPN

Social media has made the world a much more complicated place. You may even say a more dangerous place.

Just ask the Des Moines Register, which reacted to an endearing story by vetting the subject’s social media activities from back when he was in high school.

The newspaper faced major backlash after running the story, including some serious threats, and was forced to take extra security measures to protect its staff.

The Des Moines Police Department said it will have an “around the clock presence” outside the Register’s office and the paper hired an off-duty police officer to secure inside, KWWL reported.

“We are certainly aware of some of the threats they’ve had. They made a report to the police department so that goes on our radar as a place we are going to want to give a little extra attention to,” Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek told KWWL.

At the center of the firestorm are controversial tweets Carson King, 24, made in 2011 as a 16-year-old.

King held up a sign at a football game last week asking people to donate money so he could buy his “supply” of Busch Light, requesting donations be made through Venmo, according to Fox News.

As fate would have it, King’s antics went viral and he raised more than $1.6 million.

The story would appear to have a happy ending, as King donated the money received to the University of Iowa’s Stead Children’s Hospital, Fox News reported. Busch Light and Venmo pledged to match King’s fundraising efforts.

And that’s when the Register became a player.

In reporting on the story, the paper included a “routine background check” of King’s social media history and found two racist jokes in 2012 when King was a 16-year-old high school student.

The Register said, “one comparing black mothers to gorillas and another making light of black people killed in the Holocaust.”

Things quickly went to hell.

After initially embracing King for the good publicity, Busch Light’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, severed its ties with him — the corporation said it would honor its pledge.

King took to social media to “sincerely apology,” explaining that his tweets were in response to the show “Tosh.0,” a weekly series hosted by comedian Daniel Tosh.

He also said he was “ashamed” of what he saw a funny as a high school sophomore.

In a show of class, King also spoke well of the Des Moines Register, in light of the tremendous backlash the paper has been dealing with.

“The Des Moines Register has been nothing but kind in all of their coverage, and I appreciate the reporter pointing out the post to me. I want everyone to understand that this was my decision to publicly address the posts and apologize. I believe that is the right thing to do,” he tweeted.

As for the newspaper, a statement was released citing transparency as the reason for including the tweets as part of their story, noting that King preempted them when he held a news conference to express remorse over the tweets — he anticipated that his tweets would become public knowledge and tried to get out in front of the story.

“Should that material be included in the profile at all? 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?” wrote executive editor Carol Hunter.

The ugly turn the story has taken may not end there, given a follow-up tweet from the paper.

“The Register is aware of reports of inappropriate social media posts by one of our staffers, and an investigation has begun,” the tweet read.

That staffer apparently being none other than the reporter who dug up King’s old tweets:

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Tom Tillison

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