Associated Press messed with the wrong governor; DeSantis doesn’t get mad, he gets even

Turns out, The Associated Press messed around and found out the hard way when it comes to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. You see, Gov. DeSantis doesn’t play around when it comes to the media.

An example of this was seen in a reply letter DeSantis sent to Associated Press CEO Daisy Veerasingham over a dustup between his press secretary and an AP reporter, with the news executive being informed that their actions could actually cost lives.

The Republican governor may be the one person the media hates almost as much as former President Donald Trump — a key similarity between the two men is that they see the media as the adversaries they are and act accordingly. But quickly becoming a close second on the most hated list is DeSantis’ spokeswoman Christina Pushaw, who is a demon on Twitter when it comes to pushing back against false narratives.

Pushaw responded to AP reporter Brendan Farrington, who did a story claiming the Republican governor was pushing a Covid antibody treatment that a top donor had investments in, calling the report misleading and telling the reporter she’d “put you on blast,” and used the phrase “drag them,” which led to Twitter temporary restricting her account to the shock of any reasonable-minded person.

Farrington played the situation for all it was worth, taking on the role of the poor bullied victim subjected to threats, melodramatically tweeting, “Just Please don’t kill me.” Veerasingham then entered the fray, sending a whiney letter to DeSantis asking him to end Pushaw’s “harassing behavior,” while accusing her of setting an “online mob” on the reporter.

Well, the CEO got her reply Monday and it was probably not what she was bargaining for.

“I assumed your letter was to notify me that you were issuing a retraction of the partisan smear piece you published last week,” DeSantis wrote. “Instead, you had the temerity to complain about the deserved blowback that your botched and discredited attempt to concoct a political narrative has received. The ploy will not work to divert attention from the fact that the Associated Press published a false narrative that will lead some to decline effective treatment for COVID infections.”

The governor acknowledged that “the purpose of the headline and the framing of the story was to smear me by insinuating that Florida’s push to expand awareness of and access to monoclonal antibody treatments was done to boost Regeneron’s profit, rather than to simply help Floridians in need.”

Pointing out that the federal government bought the entire stock, DeSantis said it “is not even a plausible concept.”

“The AP produced zero evidence that Florida’s efforts are being undertaken for any reason other than to help Floridians recover from COVID. This will have real consequences for people’s health, especially given that the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment has a proven track record and has been touted by both the Trump and Biden administrations,” he said. “This story is a baseless conspiracy theory. 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.”

And the popular governor was just getting warmed up in his scathing beatdown of the AP.

“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,” DeSantis said. “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.”

DeSantis stressed that he stands by his staff, “who went out of the way to provide the AP with the factual information necessary to dispel the AP’s preferred narrative.”

“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,” he continued. “This is what happens when you decide on the headline and narrative before you begin reporting.”

“You succeeded in publishing a misleading, clickbait headline about one of your 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?” DeSantis concluded.

Ouch.

Tom Tillison

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