- 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)
After Uvalde, Politicians, Public Figures, Gun Violence Survivors, and More Call For Change
“When are we going to do something?” Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr asked during an emotional plea at a press conference.
Uvalde Shooting Kills 21 People
Democratic politicians, activists, and many others are calling for gun reform in the United States after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a Tuesday shooting at Robb Hill Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The 18-year-old suspected gunman was reportedly killed by officers. The massacre marks the 27th school shooting of 2022, according to Education Week.
It also comes just a week and a half after 10 people were killed in a shooting in Buffalo, New York, and another shooting in a Southern California church left one person dead and several others injured.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) spoke fervently on the Senate floor Tuesday, slamming his colleagues for refusing to pass gun control legislation that could prevent future shootings.
“What are we doing?” he asked of his fellow lawmakers. “Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority, if your answer is, as the slaughter increases, as kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing?
“Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?” he continued. “This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country.”
“And it is a choice. It is our choice.”
President Joe Biden likewise urged action by supporting the now-expired assault weapons ban.
“We can do more. We must do more,” he added.
Public Figures And Shooting Survivors Speak Out
The demands for change spread far past political figures. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr took time out of a pre-game press conference to passionately plead for common-sense gun control. He specifically called on Senators to vote on H.R. 8, a background check bill previously passed in the House.
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr asked while slamming his hands on the table.
“I ask you, Mitch McConnell, I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and school shootings and supermarket shootings. I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers?” Kerr continued. “Because that’s what it looks like.”
He went on to say that Americans, who largely support background checks, are “being held hostage by 50 Senators who refuse to even put it to a vote.”
Grammy Award-winning musician Taylor Swift shared his message, adding that she is filled with “rage and grief” not just from the shootings, but by “the ways in which we, as a nation, have become conditioned to unfathomable and unbearable heartbreak.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” tweeted David Hogg, an activist and survivor of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “The way we will make this time different is by Americans on both sides of the aisle collaborating on what we can agree on to get something done even if small. Kids are dying we have to do something.”
Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the children lost in the Parkland shooting, slammed the inaction of politicians in an interview on CBS News.
“The families don’t need your freaking hearts,” Oliver said. “They need their kids, and the kids are not there anymore. So I feel very angry and offended and I just don’t understand how come a whole society doesn’t wake up.”
People impacted by the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting also spoke out, including Mary Ann Jacob, who worked as a librarian at the school during the shooting.
“I’m so sorry those deaths did not change our world,” Jacob wrote.
Texas-based figures felt especially compelled to stand up as the tragedy hit so close to home. Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, whose hometown is Uvalde, wrote a message on social media asking Americans to “take a longer and deeper look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘What is it that we truly value?’”
“We have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us,” McConaughey wrote.
“Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before them have endured.”
Fellow Texas native Selena Gomez also took to social media to argue for action.
“If children aren’t safe at school where are they safe? It’s so frustrating and I’m not sure what to say anymore,” the “Only Murders in the Building” star wrote on her Instagram story. “Those in power need to stop giving lip service and actually change the laws to prevent these shootings in the future.”
We make it a point to not include the names and pictures of those who may have been seeking attention or infamy and will not link out to websites that might contain such information.
Lawmakers Call For Action as Oil Companies Post Record Profits Amid Rising Gas Prices
A recent analysis from the Center for American Progress found that the top five oil companies earned over 300% more in profits during the first quarter of 2022 than the same period last year.
As Consumer Prices Climb, Big Oil Profits
American oil companies are facing increased scrutiny over profiteering practices as gas prices continue to surpass record highs driven by Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
Last week, costs surged to above $4 per gallon in all 50 states for the first time ever, according to the auto club AAA. Prices are currently averaging over $4.59 per gallon nationwide, which is 50% higher than they were this time last year.
In addition to consumers hurting at the pump, there are also rising concerns for industries that rely on fuel and oil like trucking, freight, airlines, and plastic manufacturers.
To account for high prices, some in sectors have responded by ramping up prices further down the supply chain to account for costs, putting even more of a burden on consumers to pay for everyday items.
But as Americans struggle with sky-high gas prices at a time of record inflation, recently released earnings reports show that many of the world’s largest oil companies thrived in the first quarter of 2022.
ExxonMobil more than doubled its earnings from the same period last year, reporting a net profit of $5.5 billion. Meanwhile, Chevron logged its best quarterly earnings in almost a decade, and Shell had its highest earnings ever.
According to a new analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress, the top five oil companies — including the three mentioned above — earned over 300% more in profits this quarter than during the same time last year.
“In fact, these five companies’ first-quarter profits alone are equivalent to almost 28 percent of what Americans spent to fill up their gas tanks in the same time period,” the report noted.
Per Insider, for at least four of those companies, that growth marks a tremendous increase in profits from even before the pandemic.
Lawmakers Ramp-Up Efforts to Reduce Prices
To address these startling disparities, federal lawmakers have moved in recent weeks to increase pressure on oil companies and take steps to lower prices.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a bill proposed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Ca.) that aims to reduce gas prices. The legislation, called The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, would give the president the authority to issue an Energy Emergency Declaration that would be effective for up to 30 days with the possibility of being renewed.
In that emergency period, it would be illegal for anyone to increase gas or home energy fuel prices to a level that is exploitative or “unconscionably excessive.”
The proposal would also give the Federal Trade Commission the power to investigate and manage instances of price gouging from larger companies and give state authorities the ability to enforce price-gouging violations in civil courts.
The bill, which has already seen widespread opposition from Republicans and extensive lobbying from pro-oil interest groups, faces an uphill battle in the 50-50 split Senate.
During debate on the act Thursday, Rep. Porter delivered an impassioned speech accusing oil companies of driving their record profits by using their market power to unfairly increase prices.
“The oil and gas industry currently has more than 9,000 permits to drill for oil on federal land, but they are deliberately keeping production low to please their investors and increase their short-term profits,” she said. “Even when the price of crude oil falls, oil and gas companies have refused to pass those savings on to consumers.”
“Let me be clear: price gouging is anti-capitalist,” Porter continued. “It exploits a lack of competition, which is a hallmark of capitalism. It is an effort to juice corporate profits at the expense of customers. Energy markets are reeling because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Big oil companies, however, are using this temporary chaos to cover up their abuse.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Vox) (NPR)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.