Update on a recent blog post of mine

Every once in awhile the best of us has to admit that we didn’t research something as well as we could.  Although at the time, I don’t know I could have figured all this out.  I recently wrote a blog post about the incident surrounding Carson King and the exposure by a reporter of racist tweets in his past, and I commented how this type of thing is far too common in journalism today where someone’s past is brought up, despite the fact that they are clearly not that person anymore.

While I don’t think my overall conclusion is wrong, the inspiration for me writing that post was a story more complex than I initially thought.  This link is an article written by the journalist who was apparently fired in response to the public outcry at making meat out of Carson King’s past tweets.  After reading it, I think he sounds like a decent person who had no ill intent.  According to the editor of the Des Moines daily register the background profile that reporter Aaron Calvin is standard practice.  As I read, what seems to be the original article here, it is a very positive article and the tweets are mentioned at the very end with commentary by the journalist about how much Carson had changed.

We can argue about whether bringing up at all has any value,  but we could also argue that knowing how ridiculous Twitter could be, that he was genuinely worried about the wrong person finding it out and spinning it without King’s input.  So maybe it was better getting ahead of it.  According to Calvin’s write up about the whole incident, Carson King himself had the same thought and did the press conference giving people the idea that Calvin was trying to sink him, himself.  King seemed to have no ill feelings towards the Des Moines Register or Calvin, and I think Calvin makes some salient points in his sum up of the incident.   Perhaps in the end, this incident ended up being chaotic and disastrous because of the worry, or perception of cancel culture.

13 thoughts on “Update on a recent blog post of mine

  1. Forbes did a piece on Shannon Spanhake a few months ago which I thought was thoroughly unnecessary. In Biz Carson’s background research she found that Spanhake had embellished her CV a little (saying she was a UN adviser when she’d really only represented the UN twice), and lied about her age. Small stuff, but of course, when you’re a CEO that all counts. Embarrassed, and long before the article was even published (it was eventually a video featuring Biz Carson and her supposed sleuthy reporting), Spanhake called the entire company together, admitted everything, apologised, and resigned. Forbes published the video regardless. They didn’t need to. Spanhake had suffered enough, and publishing it just ruined her professionally.

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  2. I don’t know Swarn. We do this for public figures who are vying for office. People look for anything that is unbecoming, maybe done at the height of teenage and long forgotten. Should this be norm? Should only such background info matter for politicians and others appointed to public office or should it extend to private citizens?

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    1. I am not sure such situations are analogous. The possibility that you might still be racist based on some past incidences matters for public office where you will be creating and weighing on legislation that impacts the lives of not only your constituents but constituents in many other districts. Such background thus is applicable. If it is a politician that has already been doing their job for awhile, or held a position at a lower level, we can often see the type of legislation they’ve created and voted for to paint a picture of who they are today, and that does seem more important to me.

      A person raising money for a children’s hospital, I’m not sure it’s as relevant.

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      1. What I find analogous is that the person is changed. I don’t think there is a difference whether they are raising money for a children’s home or vying for a public seat. Take for example if the issue was that as a kid they would pilfer coins from their parent’s coin box and now they are raising money- would it matter?

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        1. Well we have to disagree on some things mak! lol I do think the nature of what they are doing now determines the relevance of who they were in the past.

          If fundraising today was done in a non transparent way, where you were just writing check to the guy directly and we were just trusting him to hand over the money to the hospital, then I’d say sure his pilfering coins might be important. I suppose as the starter of the gofundme he does have administrative control over the money, but with such transparency he would surely be charged criminally if he absconded with the money, and the money would eventually go to the hospital. I’d be more interested in past behavior of him being a liar or a con artist, than pilfering coins from a money box as a child. I also think that actions, speak louder than words, especially out of context words on Twitter. And there has to be a volume of evidence. If a parent reports that one time their kid took money out of their wallet to buy gum that’s far different than a history of shoplifting at numerous stores, and bullying kids everyday for lunch money.

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          1. Can you trust a guy who was cruel to animals as a child but went on to become a vet with your beloved pet?
            I am not saying I disagree with you. My general point is if we admit to the position that people can change, it shouldn’t matter whether they are applying for public office or private fundraising. If the evidence from the past is to be useful, it should be used where said individual is still engaged in behaviour similar to what has been found from their past.

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            1. I agree. I’m not saying the background of the individual is never relevant, in fact I thought I was arguing what you are arguing in that the relationship to what they are doing matters. But I guess I would add emphasis that the severity of the past incident (cruelty to animals is a crime, rape is a crime, etc) and the volume of past incidents matter. If I found a couple of Tweets, unrelated to what they were doing now, and I didn’t see a pattern of behavior that suggested those tweets were nothing but an idiotic teenager, I wouldn’t mention them at all. I think the reporter here though felt like he was getting ahead of possible backlashed and actually wanted to put them in a meaningful context that Carson King had changed. It all went awry.

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