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Remember The Des Moines Reporter Who Dug Up "Child Cancer Venmo Guy" Carson King's Old Offensive Tweets, Then Got Blown Up For His Own? He's Back With The Sob Story Of The Century, Blaming Barstool Sports (and Everyone Except Himself) For Ruining His Life

Previously: Some Absolute Toad From The Des Moines Register Digs Up Tweets From Carson King (The Iowa State Kid Who Raised $1 Million+ For The Children's Hospital) And Plans To Expose Him - Internet Beats Him To The Punch With His Own Tweets Of Homophobia and N-Words


If you don't remember this story from September, hit the link above for a refresher. Des Moines Register reporter Aaron Calvin ran a story on Carson King — the kid who raised over a million dollars for a children's hospital through Venmo — then ran a "routine background check" which dug up some old tweets of King's when he was in high school quoting Tosh.0. The internet instantly did its thing, found Aaron doing the SAME EXACT THING, posted the receipts, all the blogs picked it up, and Aaron quickly and quietly disappeared. 

Until today, when he wrote a sob story about how he got cancelled. 

Based on the tweets with the link in it, I didn't even need to read the article to know what was coming. 

"One of the saddest stories." [Makes jerk-off motion with hand, three pumps of the wrist followed by the empty floating hand signifying the ejaculation.]

Then I got to the headline and it was even worse:

Here's the TL;DR for "what really happened": everyone else was to blame. The paper. The owners of the paper. The other writers for not insisting on forming a union. Carson King himself. Barstool Sports. Cancel culture. Everything. It was everyone's fault. Everyone except Aaron Calvin.

Here's a list I put together of "who Aaron Calvin blames for Aaron Calvin's actions." 

It was his editor's fault.

As I began writing, an editor requested that I run a background check on King. I looked at King’s court records as well as his public social media, and found a few racist jokes he’d tweeted in high school. In context, I could see that these had been references to sketches by the comedian Daniel Tosh. I told my editor about the tweets and was asked to reach out to King for comment.

I included a brief mention of the offensive tweets and King’s apology toward the end of my profile. It was a small moment placed in context at the end of a positive story. The tweets were part of a narrative of growth, maturity, and compassion—not an accusatory, “gotcha” moment. 

The tweets were "part of a narrative of growth and maturity" — definitely NOT a "gotcha moment." Only a fucking idiot would think that. Like Breitbart, or the notably far-right conservative outlet "Libstool Sports." 

Outrageous that people wouldn't give Aaron the benefit of the doubt about his intentions.

Even though his own first paragraph of the article is:

DURING THE SEVEN MONTHS I worked as a trending-news reporter for the Des Moines Register, it was my job to write about viral news in Iowa and to frame my stories in ways that would increase their viral potential.

"To frame stories in ways that would increase viral potential." Like it's his literal job, as described by him, to make stories clickable. It's his literal job to "increase viral potential" — not "report the facts and promote narratives of personal growth," but to get clicks. Again, his words.  

Not to play armchair psychologist, but I'm betting Aaron wishes he could go back and edit out the word "frame" there. Frame is not a good look. Reporters just "report" right? 

It was Carson King's fault.

The evening before the profile was scheduled to be published, King held a press conference to confess to the existence of his tweets and to make a public apology. In a statement given to local television news stations, he noted that a Register reporter had brought the tweets to his attention. I was not provided with this statement or informed that he was speaking to the press.

In his statement, King included a more recent tweet of his that denounced racism. I recognized this tweet when I read it later—I had sent it to him on Facebook Messenger, to show him that I believed the crude tweets I’d found were not fully representative of his beliefs.

I don’t believe that King set out to implicate me, but because he preempted my forthcoming profile, people believed that I intended to impugn his character. Immediately after he released his statement, angry messages began to come in to the Register’s Facebook page.

I know, I couldn't believe it either — that Carson King, who had just been told by a reporter that he had dug through Carson's old tweets and dug up some old offensive ones and was planning to publish it in his article, didn't reach out to that reporter first to give him a heads up, or a copy of his statement.  What a selfish dick. Same kind of selfish dick who raises millions for children with cancer.

It was another editor's fault.

At the request of an editor at the Register, I tweeted an apology: I had not “held myself to the same standard the Register held others.” But I immediately regretted the statement. They were words I did not believe—I was never in the business of holding others to any kind of a moral standard.

"I tweeted something that I didn't believe in and didn't actually mean at all, but am mad that people like Barstool Sports couldn't read my mind and realize I didn't actually mean what I was saying on my personal Twitter account." 

Which reminds me:

It was Barstool Sports' fault.

The death threats were frightening. But even more hurtful were the attacks on my character and humanity. These were propelled both by ordinary readers seemingly ignorant of the facts and, more insidiously, by reactionary journalists and the outlets that published them, specifically right-wing demagogue Mike Cernovich, Breitbart, and Barstool Sports. Local television stations as well as national platforms such as CNN and the Washington Post helped to spread the false but palatable narrative established by these outlets—that I had sought to vilify King for his tweets.

As usual, the lumping of Barstool with Breitbart and Cernovich is done intentionally and — ironically, to use Aaron's own vocab word, insidiously — because he heard that the site run by Jews and full of a bunch of Northeastern liberals was an alt-right social gathering place in somebody's hit piece one time. Aaron has lost all right to use the word "disingenuous" after that little move. 

But ignoring the insertion of politics once again into a place where politics plays no part, just blaming us in general for covering this story — a nationally trending story — using all of the facts and published tweets at hand. I didn't set out to "attack his character and humanity." I didn't try to "frame a narrative" like he does for his job. I read what he wrote and published in a newspaper. I read what he wrote and published on his personal Twitter account. I combined those facts with my common sense and personal beliefs to formulate my opinion, which I published on the blog where I'm paid to voice my opinions: that the dude was a fucking toad.

I re-read my blog 3 times after this story. You can read it too. I stand by every word. Especially the conclusion:

In conclusion, I think we can all learn an important lesson here: it’s not always necessary to try and humiliate a kid who has done nothing but good for the community just to get some clicks by pandering to blue checkmark moral outrage, but if you absolutely MUST, make sure the guy reporting on it doesn’t have a post history full of n-words.

I called out someone who was trying to engage in the "cancel culture" he is now ironically arguing against, by posting quotes of his own writing and screenshots of his own tweets from his own personal, public Twitter account.  If you want an apology for that don't hold your breath. 

It was Gannett's (owner of the paper) fault.

I wish Gannett would have taken into further consideration how I’d represented myself as an employee. But rather than trust the character I’d established in the newsroom and work with me to help address the anger, misunderstanding, and misinformation in the community, they vindicated bad-faith attacks and allowed disingenuous arguments to influence their decisions.

There was no union at the Register. Had I been a union member, I believe I would have been able to more effectively advocate for myself. 

In the end, I believe I was scapegoated by a corporation trying to preserve its bottom line.

All probably true. Also true: in the end, you dug up the joke tweets of a high-schooler to do your job of "framing stories to increase viral potential" and people did the same EXACT thing to you, and your use of the n-word on Twitter got you fired from your job. Those are called consequences.

That's why this paragraph being thrown in during the end section is so odd:

The specter of “cancel culture” is a concept most often invoked to protect those in power, often straight white men such as myself, from facing consequences for their actions. I believe I lost my job unfairly. At the same time, I firmly believe that people, especially those in power, should be held accountable for what they say and do.

Bear in mind, this comes after 15 paragraphs of this straight white man blaming cancel culture for the consequences of losing his job because of his actions.

I think if I had to vote for my favorite part though, it would be the ending:

Nearly as quickly as the Carson King story made me into a villain, it is leaving me behind. A Register story about the end of King’s fundraiser published October 2—less than a week after I was fired—makes no mention of me, King’s tweets, or the torrential news cycle that followed. The story includes an interview with King, but he makes no comment on those events.

After all that — complaining about not getting credit. Too perfect.


(via CJR.orgI shouldn't have to say this, but since we are held to some outrageous standard that makes us responsible for every person on Twitter, I'll state the obvious: please do not attack or harass the writer, on social media or anywhere else.)