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“Des Moines Register” Reporter Out Ahead of Iowa’s ‘Carson King Day’

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  • 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.

Source: Good Morning America

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)

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FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses

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The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.


New FDA Authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.

The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.

Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.

Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.

Hazy Recommendations, For Now

Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.

The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.

In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.

However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.

An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.

Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities

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The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.


Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”

Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.

Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.

The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone. 

During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program. 

“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”

Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.” 

“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference. 

“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”

Goals of the  Accountability for Congregate Care Act

Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act. 

“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.

“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.” 

Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.

Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change. 

“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”

While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children. 

Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)

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Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human

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The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.


Groundbreaking Procedure

Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.

The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.

With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.

According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney. 

The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.

Concerns and Hurdles Ahead

While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles. 

Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this. 

Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.

“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.

“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”

See what others are saying: (CNN)(BBC) (The New York Times)

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