A story published by Deadspin accusing an underage Kansas City Chiefs fan of racism has imploded more than anyone could have anticipated.
Deadspin senior writer Carron Phillips accused child fan Holden Armenta of wearing blackface at a Chiefs-Raiders game in Las Vegas on Sunday. In an article published Monday with the headline “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress,” Phillips included a photo that showed only the black-painted side of the child’s face. Other images and video clips show that the other half of Armenta’s face was painted red to display both of the team’s colors.
Armenta also wore the traditional headdress resembling the team logo from the 1960s and early 70s. Without any mention of the red paint or any other context, Phillips accused the team and the National Football League (NFL) of allowing fans to display “racism and hate” at games.
“The answers to all of those questions lead back to the NFL,” Phillips wrote. “While it isn’t the league’s responsibility to stop racism and hate from being taught in the home, they are a league that has relentlessly participated in prejudice. If the NFL had outlawed the chop at Chiefs games and been more aggressive in changing the team’s name, then we wouldn’t be here.”
“There’s no place for a franchise to be called the ‘Chiefs’ in a league that’s already eradicated ‘Redskins,'” he added.
Phillips received major backlash from conservatives and other prominent figures for targeting the young boy.
— Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) November 28, 2023
Twitter’s Community Notes flagged Phillips’ post for being out-of-context, citing images that showed both sides of Armenta’s face. (RELATED: Deadspin Refuses To Say If They Will Include Full Photo Of Young Chiefs Fan Accused Of Being In Black Face)
“This Deadspin’s author failed to provide full context of the photo presented in the article, which is a boy wearing face paint of which the two colors (black and red) represent the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team,” Community Notes added below Phillips’ tweet.
Phillips got so much backlash that he later deleted his tweet claiming that the red and black paint might be “even worse” than full blackface. The now-deleted tweet read, “For the idiots in my mentions who are treating this as some harmless act because the other side of his face was painted red, I could make the argument it makes it even worse.”
Why did our friend Carron J Phillips delete this tweet? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/MDVgX1Jrw0
— Dr. Sydney Watson (@SydneyLWatson) November 28, 2023
Twitter CEO Elon Musk called Phillips “an unapologetic racist and a deceiver,” while Twitter personality Harrison Krank denounced him as the “most despicable and bigoted man in media.”
Carron Phillips is an unapologetic racist and a deceiver. Shame on him.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2023
Carron J Phillips may be the most despicable and bigoted man in media for knowingly slandering a child who attended the chiefs game. I hope the family sues deadspin into the ground. pic.twitter.com/QC2svOstMV
— Harrison Krank (@HarrisonKrank) November 29, 2023
During a Wednesday morning interview with “Fox & Friends,” Outkick founder Clay Travis called on Armenta’s parents to sue Deadspin.
“I think this kids and his parents should sue Deadspin’s website for defamation. The writer, as well,” Travis said. “It’s clear they ran with something that wasn’t remotely true.”
Amid the widespread backlash, reports revealed Wednesday morning that Armenta is Native American. His grandfather, Raul Armenta, is a business committee member at the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. The elder Armenta visited his grandparents and other relatives who lived on the Native American reservation throughout his childhood, according to a short bio.
A 2012 obituary of Holden’s great-grandfather, Manuel Armenta, identified him as “an elder of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians.”
The boy’s mother, Shannon Armenta, angrily responded to Deadspin’s article and CBS News for airing the misleading photograph published by the sports blog. She posted several photos of her Chiefs super-fan son appearing to have a fun time at the game, and shared a video of him doing the iconic tomahawk chop and receiving a positive response from black Chiefs players.
“This has nothing to do with the NFL. Also, CBS showed him multiple times and this is the photo people chose to blast to create division. He is Native American – just stop already,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Deadspin has yet to issue any correction to the article or respond to the backlash as of Wednesday morning. Both Phillips and the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Jim Rich, refused to respond to the Daily Caller’s Tuesday inquiries about whether they would include the full photo showing both sides of Armenta’s face.