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Left-wing site that smeared 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan cuts entire staff after being sold

The boy has Native American heritage and his parents filed a defamation lawsuit against the company in February.

Published: March 11, 2024 8:13pm

The left-wing sports blog Deadspin, which smeared a 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan last year, has laid off all its staff after its parent company sold it. 

In November, Deadspin went viral over an article accusing a child of wearing “blackface” for wearing red and black facepaint and a Native American headdress, Fox News reported. It also accused him being hateful toward "Black people and the Native Americans at the same time." 

The boy has Native American heritage and his parents filed a defamation lawsuit against the company in February.

According to a memo sent from the blog’s former parent company G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller, all Deadspin staff was let go. 

"I have some news to share regarding one of our sites in the G/O Media portfolio. Recently we were approached by the European firm Lineup Publishing expressing interest in purchasing Deadspin to add to their growing media holdings," Spanfeller told staff in the memo, first reported by The Daily Beast. "After careful consideration, the G/O Media board of directors has decided to accept their offer. I do want to make it clear that we were not actively shopping Deadspin." 

"Deadspin’s new owners have made the decision to not carry over any of the site’s existing staff and instead build a new team more in line with their editorial vision for the brand," the memo continued. "While the new owners plan to be reverential to Deadspin’s unique voice, they plan to take a different content approach regarding the site’s overall sports coverage. This unfortunately means that we will be parting ways with those impacted staff members, who were notified earlier today. I would like to thank them for their hard work and efforts that helped make Deadspin stand out in the crowded sports media space." 

The November article that made Deadspin the subject of a major controversy had the headline, "The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress." 

In December, after the article’s publication and the family’s threat of legal action, Deadspin wrote an editor’s note, saying, "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," the note continued. "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." 

"We regret any suggestion that we were attacking the fan or his family," Deadspin added. "To that end, our story was updated on Dec. 7 to remove any photos, tweets, links, or otherwise identifying information about the fan. We have also revised the headline to better reflect the substance of the story." 

The headline was changed to "The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands (UPDATED)."

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