That Columbus (Miss.) Commercial Dispatch sportswriter who trashed Lafayette, its university and townsfolk in an Internet podcast last week has been fired by the newspaper.
Matthew Stevens revealed on Twitter today that the paper canned him: “Unfortunately, I was terminated from The Commercial Dispatch. I accept this as a consequence for my comments & I’ll always be remorseful.”
The Mississippi State Bulldogs beat reporter, who was in Lafayette weekend before last covering the Ragin’ Cajuns’ triumph over MSU in the regional baseball tournament, spent the better part of late last week and into the weekend apologizing profusely for his podcast comments — comments in which he characterized Lafayette as “the worst place in America” where he couldn’t find a suitable neighborhood in which to raise kids and even made fun of the way we talk.
But it was Stevens’ and a co-host’s trashing of Cajuns as an ethnic group — wondering, for example, whether the Acadians’ descendents represent a missing evolutionary link — that may have led to the pink slip. After the podcast went viral last week, Cajuns and Ragin’ Cajuns fans took to social media and wrote letters to the Commercial Dispatch brass complaining about Stevens’ treatment. The now-ex-reporter mounted a campaign to make amends, apologizing on Twitter, apologizing to local radio host and Cajuns play-by-play announcer Jay Walker, apologizing in a story in The Advocate. Just apologizing.
After Stevens revealed his new status as unemployed on Twitter today, Walker sent him a consolation tweet: “I hate to hear this, Matt. Remember, cats always land on their paws. Keep your head up.”
The IND opined in an aside when we blogged about Stevens’ unkind words last week that we hoped he wouldn’t get canned over the incident. It seems a bit harsh. To his credit, Stevens has remained upbeat and contrite since revealing his firing. “I want to thank The Dispatch for employing me as a sports writer. It was truly my pleasure. Also thank you to the readers for their loyalty,” he tweeted a couple hours ago, followed by, “I want to say again I’m truly sorry to everybody I hurt w/ my comments. I regret making that mistake but I must take full responsibility.”