Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, has put the Associated Press in hot water and straight up rejected a request from the outlet to reprimand his press secretary for “harassing” an AP journalist.
The incoming CEO of the AP, Daisy Veerasingham, put forth a letter to DeSantis this past week tossing out the accusation that Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, exhibited “harassing behavior” and put out the request that DeSantis step in and reprimand her. In a response sent this past Monday, DeSantis sent his refusal of the request to Veerasingham and issues harsh criticism of her outlet for spreading a “baseless conspiracy theory” about a COVID-19 treatment as part of an attempt to politically hurt DeSantis.
“The story is a baseless conspiracy theory,” wrote DeSantis in reference to an article from the AP from AUgust 18th titled, “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes.”
“While the public’s trust in corporate outlets like the AP is at historic lows, there is no doubt that some will decline to seek life-saving treatment as a result of the AP’s inflammatory headline,” he went on to add.
That the AP has received vigorous pushback is something that should be expected given the brazenness of your political attack and the fact that your false narrative will cost lives. You cannot recklessly smear your political opponents and then expect to be immune from criticism. This is especially true when the effect of your false narrative jeopardizes the health of those who could otherwise benefit from treatment with monoclonal antibodies.
I stand by the work of my staff who went out of their way to provide the AP with the factual information necessary to dispel the AP’s preferred narrative. That their response was effective in exposing the AP’s partisan agenda represented a valuable public service, as it reassured many that the Regeneron monoclonal treatment is effective.
The AP’s attempt to create a political narrative has backfired, as the conspiracy theory has been easily debunked and the credibility of your organization has been further diminished. This is what happens when you decide on the headline and narrative before you begin reporting. The corporate media’s “clicks-first, facts-later” approach to journalism is harming our country.
You succeeded in publishing a misleading, clickbait headline about one of you political opponents, but at the expense of deterring individuals infected with COVID from seeking life-saving treatment, which will cost lives.
Was it worth it?
The article from the AP tried to make the connection between hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin’s financial support of DeSantis’ campaign and DeSantis’ support of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies treatment. Citadel, Griffin’s hedge fund, currently owns $15.9 million worth of shares in Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc.