Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) ripped The Associated Press and rejected a request by the outlet to condemn his press secretary for “harassing” an AP journalist.
AP’s incoming CEO, Daisy Veerasingham, wrote DeSantis last week accusing his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, of “harassing behavior” and requesting that the governor step in. DeSantis responded to Veerasingham Monday, refusing her request and blasting her outlet for spreading a “baseless conspiracy theory” about a COVID-19 treatment in an effort to hurt DeSantis politically.
“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 added.
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 AP article attempted to draw a connection between hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin’s financial support of DeSantis’ campaign and DeSantis’ support of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies treatment. Griffin’s hedge fund, Citadel, has $15.9 million worth of shares in Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc.
The AP article played up DeSantis’ connection to the hedge fund while disregarding President Joe Biden’s, who also backs Regeneron’s treatment and who has also received financial backing from Griffin. The AP article also undercuts its own thesis by noting that hedge funds often “have a wide range of investments,” and that Citadel’s investment in Regeneron is a “tiny fraction” of its $39 billion worth of investments.”
Pushaw drew attention to the article over the weekend. In a now-deleted tweet, she called on her followers to “drag,” or ridicule, the AP over the article. She also demanded that the AP reporter who wrote the story, Brendan Farrington, change some parts of the story. Pushaw was later temporarily suspended by Twitter.
This article has been revised to note that Veerasingham has not yet assumed the role of CEO.
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