In a striking case of media overreach and irresponsibility, sports media outlet Deadspin has become the object of scorn over its recent unjust attack on a young Kansas City Chiefs supporter. The outlet published a piece targeting what is believed to be an underage fan titled “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress.”
The article accused the child of a deeply offensive act based on his game-day attire, simply intended to honor his favorite team.
At the heart of the controversy is the claim that the young fan’s face paint represented “black face,” a historically derogatory practice. The Deadspin author, Carron J. Phillips, argued that the NFL’s failure to address such fan behavior and to change the Chiefs’ name, as was done with the Washington Commanders, is to blame for the perpetuation of prejudice.
This is Deadspin senior editor and writer Carron J. Phillips.
Yesterday, he wrote a defamatory hit on a white boy for wearing face paint (his team colors). He even used a deceptive camera angle to make it look like blackface.
A glance at his past writings show that his entire… pic.twitter.com/2qabPBFzLW
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) November 28, 2023
However, the report by Deadspin conspicuously failed to show the full context. The child’s face paint was not a singular color but rather the team’s colors, red and black, split down the middle. Critics of Phillips’ piece were quick to point out this oversight, accusing the writer of dishonesty. In response to the backlash, Phillips blocked replies to his post about the article on the X platform, formerly Twitter, but the criticism didn’t stop there.
Industry peers and social media users slammed the article for its apparent deceit and sensationalism. TPM’s Libby Emmons criticized Phillips for potentially ruining the life of a child over face paint at a football game. TPM’s Savanah Hernandez expressed contempt for Phillips’ stance, calling out the fragility of a society that would be upended by a child’s game-day spirit.
Phillips doubled down on his position, even going so far as to attack those who celebrate Cinco de Mayo wearing sombreros, suggesting a hypocritical stance on cultural appropriation. This, too, was met with derision, with Hispanic journalist Julio Rosas giving a tongue-in-cheek “permission” for such celebrations, highlighting the absurdity of Phillips’ logic.
Deadspin’s approach raises questions about the responsibility of the media in portraying events and individuals fairly. The outlet’s decision to selectively present the young fan’s image has sparked a conversation about the ethics of journalism. The community notes on X pointed out the misleading nature of the article, emphasizing the importance of context in reporting.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2023
Phillips’ previous articles have also been contentious, covering topics from the popularity of athletes like Simone Biles to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ kneeling during the national anthem. His work reflects a pattern of stirring controversy and engaging in what some might consider ‘woke’ journalism.
This incident with the young Chiefs fan is not an isolated event but a symptom of a more significant issue in the media today. The eagerness to frame narratives without full disclosure contributes to a climate of distrust between the public and the press. The role of journalism should be to illuminate truth, not to cast shadows where there is light. Media outlets must uphold the standards of accuracy and fairness, particularly when the subjects of their reporting are minors and the potential for harm is significant.