DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Des Moines Register has heard from thousands of angry readers over the past few days following an article referencing eight-year-old tweets from Carson King, after his viral ESPN College GameDay sign spawned a massive campaign to collect money for an Iowa children’s hospital.
An editorial from Executive Editor Carol Hunter discussed the Register’s decision-making process and what they’ve learned, and will change, because of this experience.
“We’ve listened with an open mind to everyone, but especially Iowans, the people who are our neighbors, who care as much as we do about our state and everyone who lives here. And we hear you: You’re angry, you’re disappointed and you want us to understand that,” Hunter wrote.
The paper goes on to further explain how they notified King of the tweets and why they decided to publish references to them.
King, ahead of the story's publication, held a news conference to address the tweets that he posted when he was 16-years-old and apologize.
"The Des Moines Register has been nothing but kind in all of their coverage, and I appreciate the reporter pointing out the post to me. I want everyone to understand that this was my decision to publicly address the posts and apologize. I believe that is the right thing to do," said King.
After the story was published, social media users started looking into the reporter who wrote the article -- Aaron Calvin.
They uncovered several inappropriate tweets, which prompted Calvin to apologize for, "Not holding myself to the same high standards as the Register holds other."
The Des Moines Register launched an investigation and Thursday night announced Calvin is no longer with the paper.
King tells Channel 13 Sports Director Keith Murphy, as of Thursday night, $1.8 million has been raised for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
That includes the pledges of Venmo and Busch Beer to match the donations King received in his Venmo account through the end of September. Despite Anheuser-Busch's decision to cut ties with King, after becoming aware of the long-ago tweets, a spokesperson says the company will honor its commitment to match the donations.
Several other businesses have made sizable donations like Prairie Meadows and Northwestern Mutual. Other businesses have pledged portions of their profits as well like Goldie’s Ice Cream in Prairie City, Geneseo Brewing, Smokey Row, and deWitt Construction.
King also thanked supporters in a social media post Thursday night, saying "I don't really have the words to describe my feelings as this fundraiser has taken off. I am forever grateful for the generosity of tens of thousands of people who have felt compelled to donate."
The fundraiser remains open until the end of the month and donations can be made to King’s Venmo account: carson-king-25.