Deadspin offers no apology in update of viral hit piece falsely accusing 9-year-old Chiefs Fan of wearing blackface

Dec 8, 2023 | Political News

On Thursday, Deadspin amended the viral story that accused a young Kansas City Chiefs fan of wearing “blackface.” The publication updated the article after the boy's family threatened legal action.

Deadspin did not apologize for their false racism claims against Holden Armenta, a 9-year-old Native American boy, but announced that they had removed photos, links, and other identifying information from the piece written by Carron J. Phillips.

The update reads: “On Nov. 27, Deadspin published an opinion piece criticizing the NFL for allowing a young fan to attend the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Nov. 26 wearing a traditional Native American headdress and, based upon the available photo, what appeared to be black face paint.”

“Unfortunately the article drew attention to the fan, though our intended focus was on the NFL and its checkered history on race, an issue which our writer has covered extensively for Deadspin. Three years ago, the Chiefs banned fans from wearing headdresses in Arrowhead Stadium, as well as face painting that ‘appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions.' The story's intended focus was the NFL and its failure to extend those rules to the entire league.”

The original header image, which featured Holden's profile at the November 26 game donning a traditional Native American headdress and having his face painted in black and red, colors seen in the Chiefs' logo, was changed by the editors. Additionally, the headline was revised to refrain from calling out the fan.

The original headline read, “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress.” It has been changed to, “The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands.”

Both Deadspin and writer Caron Phillips were eviscerated on social media following the release of the article. Individuals called out the woke publication for attacking a young child. The article not only falsely accused the boy of anti-black racism, but anti-native racism. It was later revealed that Holden Armenta is Native American and belongs to the Chumash Tribe in Santa Ynez.

After Deadspin's hit piece, footage from the game emerged on social media that showed young Holden leading the tomahawk chop, with black players from the Chiefs joining in, and applauding his enthusiasm.

Caron J. Phillips was slammed for going as low as to target a small child, but he refused to apologize. In fact, he doubled down and asserted that the young Native boy is a racist.

In a post on X, that has since been deleted, Phillips wrote: “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 that it makes it even worse. Y’all are the ones who hate Mexicans but wear sombreros on Cinco.”

TPM's own Libby Emmons weighed in, saying: “This man ruins the life of some poor kid for the crime of wearing face paint at a football game and he really thinks he’s the good guy.”

Last week, Armenta's parents threatened to hit both Deadspin and Phillips with a defamation lawsuit. The threat of legal action came in a scathing letter to publisher G/O Media and Great Hill Partners.

“These articles, posts on X and photos about Holden and his parents must be retracted immediately,” read the letter from lawfirm Clare Locke LLP, before specifying that “It is not enough to quietly remove a tweet from X or disable the article from Deadspin’s website.”

“You must publish your retractions and issue an apology to my clients with the same prominence and fanfare with which you defamed them.”

Holden Armenta appeared on Fox News' Jesse Waters Primetime to discuss the incident and said “it's a little scary.”