“Des Moines Register” Reporter Out Ahead of Iowa’s ‘Carson King Day’
- The Des Moines Register reporter who faced backlash for digging up old, offensive posts made by Carson King is no longer working at the paper after several racist and homophobic posts of his own surfaced.
- It’s unclear if the reporter, Aaron Calvin, was fired or if he left on his own, but the Register’s executive editor said the newspaper is updating policies regarding background checks for both employees and the people it interviews.
- All of this comes before Saturday, September 28, which Iowa has proclaimed “Carson King Day” in honor of King’s million-dollar donation to a local children’s hospital.
Reporter Leaves Des Moines Register
A Des Moines Register reporter is no longer working for the paper after digging up old racist tweets Carson King posted at 16, despite the reporter having a history of making racist and homophobic posts himself.
The Register did not say whether the reporter, Aaron Calvin, was fired or left of his own volition. In a piece published Thursday night, the paper’s executive editor Carol Hunter simply stated, “That reporter is no longer with the Register.”
Hunter also said that while employees are regularly vetted, the Register never uncovered Calvin’s tweets during his hiring.
“We took appropriate action because there is nothing more important in journalism than having readers’ trust,” Hunter said in the column, which introduced new hiring and interview policies for the Register moving forward.
King, 24, attracted national attention earlier this month when he was seen on ESPN’s “College GameDay” holding up a sign that read “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” along with his Venmo username. After inadvertently raising hundreds of dollars, King decided to instead donate the money to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
Anheuser-Busch and Venmo then pledged to match his donation. Prairie Meadows and Northwestern Mutual have also both made donations to King’s cause. As of Friday morning, King’s running total stands at about $1.78 million. He said he’s hoping to raise $2 million by the time he closes his Venmo account on Sept. 30.
Calvin faced national criticism after digging up two 2012 tweets in which King, then a sophomore in high school, compared black mothers to gorillas and joked about black people dying in the Holocaust. When Calvin reportedly asked King about those tweets, King expressed remorse and said they made him “sick.”
Knowing the story would soon break, King, took matters into his own hands by deleting his old tweets immediately after his conversation with Calvin. He then voluntarily reached out to other local news outlets to issue an apology and break the story first.
“I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16-year-old,” King said while reading a statement at a news conference. “I want to sincerely apologize.”
“I don’t want what I did when I was 16 to take away from the fact that we’re over $1.14 million dollars for the children’s hospital,” he told KCCI on Sept. 24.
Later the same night, it was announced that Anheuser-Busch had broken its partnership with King after having previously gifted him a year’s supply of Busch Light with his face on the cans. Busch, however, did say it would continue to match King’s donation.
Many Twitter users applauded King for his handling of the situation, with others criticizing both the Register for running with the information and Anheuser-Busch for cutting ties with King.
The story became even more complicated when Calvin faced an additional level of criticism after his own racist tweets were exposed. In those tweets made between 2010 to 2013, Calvin uses the n-word and jokes that he will marry a horse following the legalization of gay marriage.
“We hear you. You’re angry. Here’s what we are doing about it.”
In Hunter’s Thursday night column, titled “We hear you. You’re angry. Here’s what we are doing about it,” she said the Register has heard from hundreds of people in the last few days over its handling of the Carson King profile piece.
Hunter also said she has worked to be “as transparent as possible,” referring to a Sept. 24 statement from her in which she details why the Register pushed forward with King’s tweets.
To that effect, Hunter said the newspaper is revising its practices and policies, “including those that did not uncover our own reporter’s past inappropriate social media postings.”
In her Sept. 24 statement, Hunter said editors decided to include the information in an attempt to be transparent, citing that donors to King’s cause should know that information. She then said the decision was “preempted” when King appeared on local TV while the Register piece was still in the editing process.
Hunter reiterates the timeline in her Thursday statement, saying the Register was already facing scrutiny on social media before it published Calvin’s piece.
Hunter then addresses one of the major concerns many had with Calvin’s article: why publish information from when King was 16-years-old when he is only using his attention to raise money for a children’s hospital, rather than profiting off the money?
Regarding that concern, Hunter said the Register is reviewing its “policies for backgrounding individuals in stories, with particular attention to acts committed by juveniles and to the newsworthiness of that information years later.”
As to why the Register first chose to run with the information, Hunter said the newspaper’s readers depend on them to tell a complete story, though she noted the newspaper didn’t intend to “disparage or otherwise cast a negative light” on King. She did, however, cite the prevalence of fundraiser scams as one reason the Register performed a background check on King.
Hunter also notes that while the newspaper decided to publish information on King’s tweets, it refrained from publishing the actual tweets, particularly because of his age at the time and the remorse he expressed during his interview with Calvin.
Her statement also reveals new information regarding Anheuser-Busch’s separation from King. She said King told the paper that Busch ended its partnership the morning of Sept. 24, before any media outlet broke the story.
Hunter then ends her statement by saying, “None of what’s happened has slowed King’s fundraising for the children’s hospital. We can all agree that’s good news.”
Carson King Day
During the fallout of the tweets, bodies like Make a Wish Iowa and even the state’s government have stood by and supported King, with the governor of Iowa declaring Sept. 28 “Carson King Day.”
“The Carson King Story embodies a young man’s ability to help a cause greater than himself and can serve as a model for others to follow,” the proclamation reads. “Carson King has shown that one person can make a difference and one person can make positive change even through the unlikeliest of ways.”
“Thank you Governor Kim Reynolds,” King said in a Thursday Twitter post. “I never could have imagined there would be a “Carson King Day.” It’s an incredible honor. Thank you, Governor!”
“Our society can be so divisive at times,” King continued. “But these two weeks have shown we have the power to come together and make a difference. I hope this can be an inspiration for all of going forward.”
See what others are saying: (WHO-TV) (KCCI) (Washington Post)
Survey and Census Data Shows Record Number of Americans are Struggling Financially
Americans are choosing not to pursue medical treatment more and more frequently as they encounter money troubles.
A recent federal survey shows that a record number of Americans were worse off financially in 2022 than a year prior.
Coupled with recent census data showing pervasive poverty across much of the country, Americans are forced to make difficult decisions, like foregoing expensive healthcare.
According to a recent Federal Reserve Bureau survey, 35% of adults say they were worse off in 2022 than 2021, which is the highest share ever recorded since the question was raised in 2014.
Additionally, half of adults reported their budget was majorly affected by rising prices across the country, and that number is even higher among minority communities and parents living with their children.
According to recent census data, more than 10% of the counties in the U.S. are experiencing persistent poverty, meaning the area has had a poverty rate of 20% or higher between 1989 and 2019.
16 states report at least 10% of their population living in persistent poverty. But most of the suffering counties were found in the South — which accounts for over half the people living in persistent poverty, despite making up less than 40% of the population.
These financial realities have placed many Americans in the unfortunate situation of choosing between medical treatment and survival. The Federal Reserve study found that the share of Americans who skipped medical treatment because of the cost has drastically increased since 2020.
The reflection of this can be found in the overall health of households in different income brackets. 75% of households with an income of $25,000 or less report being in good health – compared to the 91% of households with $100,000 or more income.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (Federal Reserve)
Montana Governor Signs TikTok Ban
The ban will likely face legal challenges before it is officially enacted next year.
First Statewide Ban of TikTok
Montana became the first state to ban TikTok on Wednesday after Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation aimed at protecting “Montanans’ personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.”
The ban will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, though the law will likely face a handful of legal challenges before that date.
Under the law, citizens of the state will not be held liable for using the app, but companies that offer the app on their platforms, like Apple and Google, will face a $10,000 fine per day of violations. TikTok would also be subject to the hefty daily fine.
Questions remain about how tech companies will practically enforce this law. During a hearing earlier this year, a representative from TechNet said that these platforms don’t have the ability to “geofence” apps by state.
Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, told the Associated Press that app stores could have the capability to enforce the restriction, but it would be difficult to carry out and there would be a variety of loopholes by tools like VPNs.
Montana’s law comes as U.S. politicians have taken aim at TikTok over its alleged ties to the CCP. Earlier this year, the White House directed federal agencies to remove TikTok from government devices. Conservatives, in particular, have been increasingly working to restrict the app.
“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said in a Wednesday statement.
Criticism of Montana Law
TikTok, however, has repeatedly denied that it gives user data to the government. The company released a statement claiming Montana’s law “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people” in the state.
“We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,” the company said.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned Montana’s law for similar reasons.
“This law tramples on our free speech rights under the guise of national security and lays the groundwork for excessive government control over the internet,” the ACLU tweeted. “Elected officials do not have the right to selectively censor entire social media apps based on their country of origin.”
Per the AP, there are 200,000 TikTok users in Montana, and another 6,000 businesses use the platform as well. Lawsuits are expected to be filed against the law in the near future.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Fast Company) (CBS News)
How a Disney-Loving Former Youth Pastor Landed on The FBI’s “Most Wanted” List
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Chris Burns’ 19-year-old son pleaded to his father via The Daily Beast.
Multi-Million Dollar Scheme
Former youth pastor turned financial advisor Chris Burns remains at large since going on the run in September of 2020 to avoid a Securities Exchange Commission investigation into his businesses.
Despite his fugitive status, the Justice Department recently indicted Burns with several more charges on top of the $12 million default judgment he received from the SEC.
Burns allegedly sold false promissory notes to investors across Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. The SEC claims he told the investors they were participating in a “peer to peer” lending program where businesses that needed capital would borrow money and then repay it with interest as high as 20%. Burns allegedly also reassured investors that the businesses had collateral so the investment was low-risk.
The SEC says that Burns instead took that money for personal use.
Burns began his adult life as a youth pastor back in 2007 before transitioning into financial planning a few years later. By 2017, he launched his own radio show, The Chris Burns Show, which was funded by one of his companies, Dynamic Money – where every week Burns would “unpack how this week’s headlines practically impact your life, wallet, and future,” according to the description. He also frequently appeared on television and online, talking about finances and politics.
The SEC alleges that he used his public appearances to elevate his status as a financial advisor and maximize his reach to investors.
His family told The Daily Beast that he became obsessed with success and he reportedly bought hand-made clothes, a million-dollar lakehouse, a boat, several cars, and took his family on several trips to Disney World. His eldest son and wife said that Burns was paying thousands of dollars a day for VIP tours and once paid for the neighbors to come along.
Then in September 2020, he reportedly told his wife that he was being investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission but he told her not to worry.
The day that he was supposed to turn over his business documents to the SEC, he disappeared, telling his wife he was just going to take a trip to North Carolina to tell his parents about the investigation. Then, the car was found abandoned in a parking lot with several cashier’s checks totaling $78,000
FBI’s Most Wanted
The default judgment in the SEC complaint orders Burns, if he’s ever found, to pay $12 million to his victims, as well as over $650,000 in a civil penalty. Additionally, a federal criminal complaint charged him with mail fraud. Burns is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Last week, the Justice Department indicted him on several other charges including 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
“Burns is charged for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from clients in an illegal investment fraud scheme,” Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Financial crimes of this nature can cause significant disruptions to the lives of those who are victimized, and the FBI is dedicated to holding these criminals accountable.”
His family maintains that they knew nothing of Burns’ schemes. His wife reportedly returned over $300,000 that he had given to her.
She and their eldest son, who is now 19, told The Daily Beast they just want Burns to turn himself in, take responsibility for his actions, and try to help the people he hurt.
“Do what is best, not for yourself, for once. Think about everyone else,” Burns’ son said in a message to his father via The Daily Beast.