September 28, 2019


The Des Moines Register reporter fired in the wake of a scandal involving offensive tweets — posted by a viral star he interviewed and then his own — broke his silence Friday, telling BuzzFeed News he had been “abandoned” by the newspaper after following standard editorial practice by performing a social media search on the person he was profiling.

“This event basically set my entire life on fire,” reporter Aaron Calvin said.

Which is what Calvin did to Carson King through what Carol Hunter, his editor at the Des Moines Register Owellianly dubbed a “routine background check” afterwards. Which prompted a million or so Twitter users who also have access search engines to perform the same “routine background check” on Calvin. The tweets discovered, some of which were written while Calvin was a student at Hofstra, were not pretty.

More from BuzzFeed:

In the tweet, Calvin apologized for “not holding myself to the same high standards as The Register holds others.”

“I regret publishing that tweet now,” Calvin told BuzzFeed News. “Because I was never trying to hold Carson to any kind of ‘higher standard’ or any kind of standard at all. I was trying to do my job as a reporter, and I think I did so to the best of my ability.”

As soon as the story broke, Calvin said he began receiving a barrage of death threats. He said HR reps at Gannett, which owns the Des Moines Register, forbade him from speaking to the media and told him to leave his apartment for his own safety. They offered to put him up in a hotel, but he stayed with a friend instead.

“I recognize that I’m not the first person to be doxed like this — this whole campaign was taken up by right-wing ideologues and largely driven by that force,” he said. “It was just a taste of what I assume that women and journalists of color suffer all the time, but the kind of locality and regional virality of the story made it so intense.”

Calvin is portraying himself as the victim here, comparing himself to “just a taste of what I assume that women and journalists of color suffer all the time.” As Stephen Miller tweets in response to the above passage, “this is how I imagine Jesus or Nelson Mandela must have felt,” adding, “Yes it’s bad when someone takes tweets out of context to paint someone as a racist, ISN’T IT. Jaw dropping lack of self awareness.”

Speaking of which, curiously missing from BuzzFeed’s article is that (a) Calvin is an alumni of BuzzFeed and (b) BuzzFeed was one of the pioneers of doxxing someone and blowing up their life via an abhorrent tweet, perhaps most prominently, Justine Sacco. Today, the man responsible for that hit is praised by his fellow Democratic Party operatives with headlines such as this one at the Washington Post in August: “Said something you’d like to forget? CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski won’t let it go.”

BuzzFeed’s chronology is also a bit off: Calvin was abandoned by the Des Moines Register before his article was published. A simple deletion of the passage mentioning  Carson King’s tweets written as a 16 year old by Carol Hunter, King’s editor, would have saved both men what angel investor Balaji S. Srinivasan dubbed “mutually assured cancellation” – as well as the destruction of her newspaper’s previously benign reputation.

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