Earlier this week, The Associated Press seemed to have a scoop: One of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) top donors is invested in the company that makes a life-saving COVID-19 treatment — a treatment DeSantis has been touting since last year.
On its face, the article didn’t have much oomph, as DeSantis is not the only one pushing monoclonal antibody treatments, including the Biden administration. Further, the donor, Ken Griffin, the CEO of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel, also donated to President Joe Biden’s inauguration committee, yet the AP didn’t write a similar article attempting to make Biden’s encouragement of the treatment as something nefarious.
At issue is the fact that Griffin’s company, Citadel, holds $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc., which makes the antibody treatment DeSantis and Biden are pushing. The AP hedged its article by acknowledging that hedge funds often “have a wide range of investments,” yet the news outlet continued to focus on DeSantis, justifying the article by saying “the relationship has generated a buzz on social media, as Democrats question the relationship.”
“Citadel’s investment in Regeneron is a tiny fraction of its overall $39 billion in investments, but if the stock price were to go up, Citadel would benefit. DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw points out that Citadel has far greater investments in Moderna and Pfizer, which manufacture COVID-19 vaccines,” the AP also reported.
Kirby Wilson of The Tampa Bay Times, however, noted that Regeneron “already sold all ~1.5 million doses of its monoclonal antibody cocktail to the U.S. government, per a spokesperson.” Because of this, it doesn’t “much matter to Regeneron (financially)” if Floridians do take the treatment being pushed by DeSantis.
Pushaw also emailed the AP in an attempt to explain why their article was pointless.
“Claiming that there is somehow ‘corruption’ by promoting the baseless political narrative that Governor DeSantis supports Regeneron over COVID vaccines (completely false, but that is another topic) is not even logically consistent when you examine the SEC filing,” Pushaw told the outlet. “Citadel holds far more shares of Pfizer and Moderna than Regeneron.”
Still, the AP forged ahead with a biased article that is yet another media contribution to the attempt to paint DeSantis as a villain.
The AP article led many on the Left to make baseless claims regarding the donor and DeSantis. One such claim, from the left-wing Democratic Underground, ended up getting fact-checked as “mostly false” by Politifact, itself a left-leaning outlet. The Democratic Underground claimed DeSantis “has been discouraging masking and downplaying Covid vaccines” while encouraging the antibody treatments.
“You’ll be amazed to learn that the second-largest investor in Regeneron is Citadel Investment Group,” whose CEO, Ken Griffin, is “DeSantis’ number one political donor,” the Democratic Underground claimed in an Instagram post.
Politifact noted, however, that Citadel is not Rengeron’s “second-largest investor,” and that while Griffin is a major donor to DeSantis, he isn’t the number 1 donor (though the outlet noted Democratic Underground didn’t give a donation time frame).
DeSantis Press Secretary Pushaw took to Twitter after the AP article was published to condemn it as “cheap political innuendo” and calling out the author specifically for allegedly claiming his “boss’s boss” wouldn’t let him change the headline.
Pushaw continued to criticize the AP article, prompting the news outlet to report her to Twitter, alleging harassment. The AP claimed Pushaw’s tweets “led to a reporter receiving threats and other online abuse” and ostensibly claimed that the outlet “is seeking to fight online bullying against journalists, a growing trend that is often triggered by public figures.”
In a now-deleted tweet, Pushaw retweeted the AP article and wrote “drag them.” She also wrote in another tweet that she would put the AP “on blast” if the article wasn’t changed.
The author of the original AP article then claimed he was being harassed and threatened.
Pushaw was suspended by Twitter for 12 hours.
In response to the ban, Pushaw said “You will ban the press secretary of a democratically-elected official while allowing the Taliban to live tweet their conquest of Afghanistan?” She added that those who “challenge false narratives are often silenced by corporate media and Big Tech collusion.”