If you’ve been following the story of the Des Moines Register and Carson King, the man who raised a million dollars for a children’s hospital, then you’ll know that the Register is what can only be described as the villain in this tale.
If you need to catch up, then you can read the rundown by my colleague Sister Toldjah.
Thanks to the controversy that the Des Moines Register brought on itself, the rag was forced to step forward and issue an explanation for their actions. I’m not sure if the editor who wrote the explanation, Carol Hunter, thought that this would make the situation better, but it had the opposite effect regardless.
In fact, it only proved that the folks at the Register still aren’t getting it, and I’m worried the rest of the mainstream media isn’t getting it either.
Hunter titled her response to the controversy “We hear you. You’re angry. Here’s what we are doing about it.” Not to spoil it, but at least one-third of this title is inaccurate.
I’ll skip a lot of the fluff, but the meat occurs when Hunter explains the timeline of events after their reporter discovered King’s old tweets that quoted a racist joke by comedian Daniel Tosh:
The timeline gets a bit complicated here: Register editors discussed at length whether to include information about the tweets and King’s remorse in our profile, but we were still editing the story when King talked to local TV stations. Busch Light announced its decision shortly afterward. We hadn’t yet published anything about his tweets when some people on social media began accusing the Register of doing King wrong and ruining a potential opportunity to continue raising millions of dollars to help sick children.
This is a ridiculous way to describe the timeline. For one, it dismisses the fact that King had the tweets held up to his face by the reporter who obviously began asking him about them and for a response to them. King lives in 2019 and knew what was coming next and he decided to get out ahead of it. It’s what I would do, as it puts the control in my hands, and not the hands of “journalists.”
This explanation of the timeline by Hunter looks as if she’s trying to absolve the Register of any wrongdoing. They hadn’t published the information…yet, but had ultimately decided to according to their own tweet.
A statement from our editor: pic.twitter.com/ZH9AhcrYbg
— Des Moines Register (@DMRegister) September 25, 2019
Meaning they were going to screw King anyway. King beating them to the punch doesn’t absolve them.
Hunter then goes on to bring up the point many have made, including yours truly, about why they needed to look nearly a decade into King’s social media history anyway. She gives this explanation:
In this case, our initial stories drew so much interest that we decided to write a profile of King, to help readers understand the young man behind the handmade sign and the outpouring of donations to the children’s hospital. The Register had no intention to disparage or otherwise cast a negative light on King.
Quick interjection. False. Those kinds of tweets cast nothing but a negative light on people and claiming that wasn’t your intent is like saying you decked someone across the face but didn’t mean to hurt them. But she continues:
In doing backgrounding for such a story, reporters talk to family, friends, colleagues or professors. We check court and arrest records as well as other pertinent public records, including social media activity. The process helps us to understand the whole person.
There have been numerous cases nationally of fundraising for a person experiencing a tragedy that was revealed as a scam after media investigated the backgrounds of the organizer or purported victim.
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.
This is a reasonable thing to do for journalists and exposing a scam is exactly what their job entails. The problem here is that the Register didn’t expose a scam by King or reveal an evil person, they exposed some old tweets that didn’t flow with the wokeness of 2019. The tweets did not reflect his character nor did they have anything at all to do with the charity. Any good editor or reporter would have used their common sense about that and shrugged it off.
Instead, Hunter and the gang decided to fling mud and call it holy water.
Hunter then tried to reassure everyone that Anheuser-Busch made the decision to sever ties on their own without any warning from King or the Register about the tweets. Even if that is true, the entire reason they did it is that the corporation also lives in 2019 and knows what would happen if and when the media picks up the story about the tweets.
Cancel culture is so prevalent in our society that one whiff of controversy is enough to send a business running in the opposite direction in order to avoid the PR nightmare that is the mob. Not that it excuses Anheuser-Busch for its cowardice as I’ve written in more detail previously.
The beer corporation ran because rags like the Des Moines Register create unnecessary situations where innocent people are suddenly public pariahs. Even if the Register had nothing to do with AB pulling out, they’re still guilty for fostering the culture that made them do it.
Hunter then turns to the reporter who exposed King’s tweets, whom internet sleuths discovered had nasty tweets of his own in his distant past. According to Hunter, the reporter, Aaron Calvin, has been fired, and they had no idea of Calvin’s social media faux pas in the past:
Until readers called to our attention some inappropriate posts from several years ago, the Register was unaware of them.
The reason the Register wasn’t aware of them was that they don’t matter. They’re nearly a decade old and no one is who they were then, nor should mistakes they made when they were much younger be held against them. Rest assured, Calvin was practicing irresponsible journalism by even dredging up the tweets, but so were Hunter and the editors who mulled over whether or not to release the tweets in the first place and decided to do so.
My relatively unpopular opinion is that Calvin shouldn’t have been fired for his past tweets just like King shouldn’t have to suffer for his. Firing Calvin only reinforces this cancel culture nonsense. The Register thought it was doing the right thing by firing Calvin and exposing King, but the truth is that both of these actions foster a horrible monster.
And that makes this final paragraph by Hunter ring all the more hollow:
Thank you for your concerns about our coverage and for hearing me out directly here. To everyone who called, wrote and posted your opinions — your passion about news and its role in our society is clear. We heard you say you want news coverage that helps bring us together, not divide us. We agree, and we appreciate your heartfelt critiques of our work, as well as your support.
Hunter justifying their exposing of King and the Register firing Calvin means they didn’t hear one damn thing. They’re still taking part in cancel culture and still holding up the idea of holding people’s pasts against them. They’re still making people pay for things they shouldn’t. They say they “agree” with the people who smacked them around, but what does that mean in the face of their actions?
The Des Moines Register’s explanation only proved that things are still as bad if not worse.
We live in a time when a man could run into a burning building to save orphans, and the media will believe it’s doing good by pointing out that the man has the wrong opinions about any given subject. A man could put his life on the line and he will be stripped in the public square then drawn and quartered if the media doesn’t like what it sees.
How many heroes do you think our society will bring forth if the reward for goodness is character assassination?
As far as I’m concerned, the Des Moines Register is still practicing this kind of evil, only now they’re justifying it.