Reporter in Carson King Scandal Blames ‘Right-Wing’ for His Firing – Is Scared to Go Outside

The reporter who was fired by the Des Moines Register in the wake of public backlash over a profile on a state hero blamed a right-wing doxxing campaign and his former employer for his pariah status.

“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,” Aaron Calvin told Buzzfeed News in an interview published Friday.

Calvin told Buzzfeed News he is afraid to go out in public and is staying with a friend.

MORE: Reporter Digs Up ‘Racist’ Posts From Man Who Helps Save Sick Kids – Then His Own Tweets Surface

“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,” the 27-year-old, who counts Buzzfeed among his former employers, added.

Calvin said he’s received death threats in the wake of a much-criticized story he penned about Carson King, a 24-year-old security guard who became an “Iowa Legend” after raising more than $1 million for the University of Iowa’s Stead Children’s Hospital through a viral beer money stunt.

“This event basically set my entire life on fire,” Calvin told Buzzfeed News.

A “routine background” check changes the life of Aaron Calvin

As part of the piece, Calvin conducted a “routine background check” on King, which unearthed two racist jokes made when he was a 16-year-old high-schooler.

King expressed deep remorse when asked about the tweets, telling the Register on Tuesday: “That’s not something that I’m proud of at all.”

“I am embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16 years old,” King told reporters during a press conference later that day.

Busch Light’s parent company announced on Tuesday it was ending its relationship with King but would still honor its pledge.

An avalanche of readers and social media commenters slammed Calvin and the Register, arguing that King’s eight-year-old tweets were irrelevant to his current story and railing against the purported excesses of cancel culture.

They also dug up offensive past tweets made by Calvin.

In various posts dated 2010-2013, Calvin used the N-word, homophobic language and expressed a desire to “read sex scenes to high schoolers.”

Calvin told Buzzfeed News that he found the offending tweets “embarrassing” and would not have written them today, but said they had been “taken out of context” and were being used to “wield disingenuous arguments against” him.

“As I said when I was speaking with Carson, I don’t think people’s past social media statements should be made to make blanket characterizations about them,” he said.

Calvin also said that King “was never in danger of being canceled.”

Hundreds of users pledged to cancel their subscriptions to the Register. Many more called on executive editor Carol Hunter to fire Calvin.

The Register issued an initial statement Wednesday explaining the decision to publish the information about King’s offensive tweets. In a followup, the Iowa paper said it was “aware of reports of inappropriate social media posts” by one of its own staff.

By Thursday, the Register said Calvin had been dismissed, announcing the decision in a statement many found tone-deaf and self-serving.

The Des Moines Register finds a scapegoat?

According to Calvin, editors and senior leadership at the Register were well aware of how he was handling the King profile.

“Throughout this entire process of the discovery and inclusion of the tweets, the editor knew, the editorial board knew, and the executive editor knew how I’d included them and handled them for the article, and as far as I knew, approved of that,” he said.

He told Buzzfeed News that editors at the Register directed him to apologize for his past tweets, which he did in an effort to save his job.

MORE: Reporter Who Dug Up ‘Racist’ Tweets on ‘Iowa Legend’ Gets Fired

“Frankly, it’s really disappointing to me to be abandoned by my former employer,” Calvin said.

And he wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Even some critics of Calvin’s piece suggested that while he might have shown poor judgment, the Register’s senior leaders and editors were the true villains in the saga.

“I genuinely feel sorry for the young reporter who got fired, when the ostensibly adult Des Moines Register editorial staff who debated whether to run with it are still there this morning, debating other stuff to run with,” tweeted conservative commentator David Burge.

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