ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6‘s Matt Austin tells the stories of Central Floridians and is rarely the focus of news coverage, but his recent online defense of his daughters has grabbed headlines from across the U.S. and even overseas.
“It’s been a totally strange experience,” Austin said. “You post stuff to the internet and you never realize how far it’ll go.”
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Austin’s pushback against the online commenters who went after his daughters and his parenting for their homecoming dresses has been viewed more than 5 million times since it was posted to TikTok.
@flnewsman A dad responds to Karens taking aim at teen daughters’ Homecoming dresses. #fashiontiktok #parentsoftiktok -#fypシ #hoco ♬ original sound - mattja83
The viral attention was soon picked by Austin’s colleagues in the media. Versions of the story have appeared in numerous outlets, including:
Even some well-known blogs ran with the story, such as:
While it would appear the attention is on Austin, the real focus has been the video, not the man behind it or the family he was defending.
“Very few organizations even tried to contact me. They all just used my TikTok post and broke it into quotes,” Austin said. “There was no effort to learn the backstory or even make sure the whole thing was legit.”
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Austin has been left questioning the journalistic integrity of some outlets which have picked up his story.
“I started this as an angry dad,” Austin said. “Now, I’m also a frustrated journalist.”
Despite the thin reporting by some members of the media, Austin has been grateful for the overwhelmingly positive attention of readers and viewers from around the world.
“That’s been good and weird. And I don’t know — it’s good,” he said. “It’s reaching strange places on the internet. Now apparently, it’s overseas. It’s strange to see somebody comment, like, ‘Hey, mate, I totally agree with you.’”
Most everywhere the story has been shared or posted, it has garnered support for Austin and his family.
“Yes!!! Way to go Dad!!” one person said on TikTok.
“They look STUNNING!!!!!!” another commenter said.
Readers of ClickOrlando.com have also shown their support.
“Great job Matt! Keep being a good father, it’s your number one job,” one ClickOrlando reader said.
“They are beautiful and dressed tastefully. You and your wife have raised two wonderful young women,” another said.
“I’ve always thought you were a good guy and this just proves I was right,” added another.
Despite qualms about some of the ways in which the story has circulated, Austin said he still feels as though this has largely been a positive experience for him and his family.
“The internet never agrees on anything,” he said. “And I would say the internet overwhelmingly has supported the video, which is kind of shocking. I honestly figured there would be a lot more negative (remarks) for it when I posted it, but I never would have guessed that it would have blown up like this.”