Mississippi writer’s rant against Cajuns provokes backlash

LAFAYETTE — A Mississippi sports writer said Friday he is beyond sorry for statements he made on an Internet talk show this week trash-mouthing Lafayette, how Cajuns speak and where they live — Louisiana.

“There’s no excuse for what I said,” Matthew Stevens said, after word of his comments spread and provoked a backlash in Acadiana. “I’m so very sorry. I can’t possibly say how sorry I am.”

Stevens, a writer for the Columbus, Mississippi, Commercial Dispatch, was in Lafayette over the weekend and Monday for the MSU Bulldogs vs. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns baseball games, played in the first round of the NCAA tournament Lafayette regional.

UL-Lafayette hosted the tournament, and on Monday, the Cajuns bested MSU for a second time in two games to advance to the super regional.

Stevens returned to Mississippi on Monday with a bad impression of Lafayette and its people. And he said so on “The Full Court Press,” a talk show on Internet station Bulldog Sports Radio.

“That was the worst experience I ever had as a beat writer. Worst. Worst,” Stevens said during a six-minute stretch of the program.

“I’m not going to say to go as far as Brian (another MSU radio host) and say they’re (Cajuns) not people, but I don’t know what they are,” Stevens said.

The recording has gone viral in Mississippi and in Lafayette, and Stevens is feeling the backlash.

The 29-year-old reporter has been apologizing ever since, talking to Acadiana news outlets and even phoning in Thursday on Lafayette talk radio station KPEL 96.5 FM with Jay Walker.

On Friday, he apologized again. He returned a call to The Acadiana Advocate after his editor at the Commercial Dispatch — Timothy “Slim” Smith — made Stevens return the call.

Smith said he too has been busy dealing with the fallout from Stevens’ comments.

Smith said his young reporter now feels badly for what came out of his mouth early last week, “and I’ve spent a fair amount of time assuring that he felt badly.”

Stevens said Friday he stayed in a north Lafayette hotel during his visit. “There was a lot of shouting from a fight at my hotel. I realized I wasn’t going to get a lot of sleep.

“I hope you understand that I’m not trying to create any excuses,” he said.

During his radio rant, Stevens said he drove through Lafayette just to see if there was a home worthy of him living in and couldn’t find one after driving for an hour and a half all around the city.

Stevens did compliment Lafayette cuisine, in a backhanded way. “Food. That’s it. That’s all they know how to do.”

And this gem: “If Obama wants to cut Louisiana from the Union tomorrow, we’re better off,” Stevens said.

Stevens said Friday he knows audio evidence of his six-minute tirade will roam the Internet forever and that all he can do is learn from the experience.

“It’s a lesson I’ll take with me for the rest of my life,” Stevens said.