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WATCH: DeSantis Absolutely Eviscerates The Media For Their Botched Reporting On Florida
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Hard Rock Stadium testing site on May 06, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis eviscerated the media for their reporting on the firing of a woman whose job it was to display data data obtained by the Department of Health’s epidemiological staff. The media had trumpeted the firing along with inaccuracies that described the analyst, Rebekah Jones, as the “chief architect” of the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, with the insinuation that she was fired because she was countering the state’s narrative of how well it was faring dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Standing next to Vice President Pence, DeSantis started by clarifying what Jones’ job actually entailed, as opposed to what had been reported, as well as the reasons for her firing, noting that among other things that she is under active criminal charges, charged with cyber-stalking and cyber-sexual harassment. He stated:

She’s not a data scientist. She’s somebody that’s got a degree in journalism, communication & geography. She is not involved in collating any data; she does not have the expertise to do that. She is not an epidemiologist; she is not the chief architect of our web portal; that is another false statement, and what she was doing was she was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn’t believe was valid data. So she didn’t listen to the people who were her superiors; she had many people above her in the chain of command, and so then she was dismissed because of that and because of a bunch of different reasons about how she did.

DeSantis added, “She’s also under active criminal charges in the state of Florida; she is being charged with cyber-stalking and cyber-sexual harassment. So I’ve asked the Department of Health to explain to me how someone would be allowed to be charged with that and continue on, because this was many months ago. I have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. So her supervisor dismissed her because of a lot of those reasons and it was a totally valid way, but she should have been dismissed long before that.”

DeSantis cited Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, to buttress his claim that Florida was accurately reporting their status, then launched a full frontal assault on the media:

Our data is available; our data is transparent. In fact, Dr. Birx has talked multiple times about how Florida has the absolute best data. So any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun, and part of the reason is that because you got a lot of people in your profession who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York. “Wait two weeks, Florida’s going to be next!” “Just like Italy. Wait two weeks!”

Well, hell, we’re eight weeks away from that, and it hasn’t happened. Not only do we have a lower death rate — well, we have way lower deaths generally — we have a lower death rate than the Acela corridor, D.C., everyone up there. We have a lower rate than the Midwest: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio. But even in our region: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida has the lower death rate, and I was the number one landing spot from tens of thousands of people leaving the number one hot zone in the world to come to my state.

So we’ve succeeded, and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative; it challenges their assumption, so they gotta try to find a bogeyman; maybe its that there are black helicopters circling the Department of Health. If you believe that, I got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

DeSantis’ office released the following statement regarding Jones:

Rebekah Jones’ duties were to display data obtained by the Department’s epidemiological staff. The team that created the graphics on the dashboard, which was made up by multiple people, received data that was provided by subject matter experts, including Senior Epidemiologists, Surveillance Epidemiologists, and a Senior Database Analyst.

Rebekah Jones exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the Department, including her unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors. The blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website was harmful to the team.

Accuracy and transparency are always indispensable, especially during an unprecedented public health emergency such as COVID-19. Having someone disruptive cannot be tolerated during this public pandemic, which led the Department to determine that it was best to terminate her employment.

Watch DeSantis below:

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