If anyone is still somehow confused about why an increasing segment of the American public loathes the media with the fiery passion of a billion supergiant suns, look no further than the story of Carson King.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier, King became a local hero in Iowa and a nationwide viral sensation when he showed up to a college football game with a sign that said, “Busch Light supply need replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25.” The ingenious ploy paid dividends. People from all across the nation contributed to the beer fund until King had amassed over a million dollars in donations. Rather than invest all of that money in booze, King opted to donate it to a children’s hospital in the state. It was the perfect human interest story — starting humorously with the funny sign and turning inspirational and heartwarming with King’s generous act.
But then the media stepped in. While sane and decent people saw all of this as a nice little story with a happy ending, the crack investigators at the Des Moines Register saw it as an opportunity to drag a random person through the mud and destroy his reputation forever. Reporter Aaron Calvin performed, as he terms it, a “routine background check” of King’s social media history. During this fishing expedition, he turned up two “racist” tweets from eight years ago. Confronted by Calvin, King decided to get in front of the story and hold a news conference apologizing for the offensive stuff he tweeted almost a decade ago while in high school. The feckless corporate cowards at Anheuser-Busch immediately cut ties with King, declaring that their “values” do not “align” with a dumb joke made by a 16-year-old during Obama’s first term. The Des Moines register, having decided that King’s good deed hadn’t yet been sufficiently punished, then published the dirt they had on him.
Late last night, the Register’s editor wrote a lengthy statement defending her paper’s stupid and malicious conduct. She repeated the assertion that the “background check” on King was “routine,” and insisted that they had to report on the tweets in the name of “the public good.” These excuses won’t cut it.
First of all, Carson King was not applying to be an FBI agent. He achieved his moderate prominence because he held a funny sign and then gave a bunch of money to sick kids. This does not necessitate a “background check” of any kind. And even if it did, why would that check involve sifting through tweets from 2011?
Second, the “public good” is served by raising money for a children’s hospital. It is not served by arbitrarily humiliating people who raise money for children’s hospitals. That is the opposite of the public good. In fact, it actively detracts from the public good by discouraging members of the public from doing good.
Third, in his “offensive” Tweets, King was apparently referencing or quoting a comedy bit he saw on the show “Tosh.0.” But that doesn’t matter. He could have tweeted the most racist things imaginable. He could have pledged allegiance to Hitler. He could have advocated slavery and genocide. He could have said the most objectionable things a person could possibly say and it still wouldn’t be even slightly newsworthy. It does not matter at all what Carson King tweeted in high school. There is no universe where any statement he tweeted almost a decade ago could have any relevance or importance or news value at all. He’s not running for president. He wasn’t elected pope. He’s just a guy who did a nice thing for some kids. That’s all. His internet history has no bearing on anything and should not be printed in a newspaper under any circumstance.
In fact, even if King was running for president, even if he were made the new pope, even if he were in a position of political or cultural power of some kind, I would still say that his tweets from high school are not important. Teenagers say gross things all the time. Every teenager in the history of human civilization has said gross things. Teenagers say gross things because they’re gross. That’s the whole appeal. To them, it’s funny, a way to show off, a way to get attention, a way to rebel. These are all dumb reasons to say gross things, but so what? Teenagers have dumb reasons for doing almost everything they do. The only difference between teenagers of the past and teenagers of today is that the former could get the dumbest and grossness out of their systems without it being recorded for posterity.
The Register is sustaining a significant backlash, and rightly so. Meanwhile, Aaron Calvin has gone into hiding after Twitter sleuths did a “background check” and turned up a host of racist and homophobic material in his own Twitter history. Calvin is getting hoisted on his own petard, as he well deserves. Every scavenging vulture who drags decent people through the mud for clicks is owed the same treatment. The media has largely created this culture of vengeance, exploitation, and mercilessness. This beast probably isn’t going away until the people who made it are consumed by it.