Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary is pushing back against a complaint by The Associated Press that she unleashed a social media mob against one of its reporters over a story critical of DeSantis’ promotion of a COVID-19 treatment.
The AP’s Chief Operating Officer Daisy Veerasingham wrote DeSantis on Friday to complain that his spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, “threatened” one of its reporters, which was “dangerous and in conflict with the spirit” of the state’s constitutional protections of free speech and freedom of the press.
The story appears to be an AP report published on Wednesday that suggested DeSantis was “touting” a coronavirus treatment made by a company called Regeneron, which was used on President Donald Trump and is now being used on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has sustained a breakthrough infection of COVID.
The AP noted a hedge fund named Citadel has a $16 million stake in the company, and its manager, Ken Griffin, has donated almost $11 million to a PAC that supports DeSantis.
On a side note, Regeneron was purchased by the U.S. Government, not the State of Florida, on January 12, 2021, with over 1.5 million doses in stock.
DeSantis has promoted early treatment with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies as a way to keep people out of the hospital.
That, of course, runs counter to the vaccine narrative, the AP noted.
While the AP piece discussed DeSantis’ opposition to mask mandates and vaccine passports, it blatantly failed to point out that DeSantis has been one of the most pro-vax governors in America, relentlessly pushing for the state’s most vulnerable citizens – the elderly – to obtain the vaccine.
Pushaw maintains that she never threatened anyone and openly condemned anyone who did.
Rather, it was the AP that has committed the damage here.
“It’s reprehensible and beyond the pale,” Pushaw told The Free Press.
“They did this just to score political points against the governor. But the reporter is not the victim here. The victims are the people of Florida. They’re risking their lives because they may not seek this life-saving treatment” based on the AP report,” she added.
Deep in its report, the AP pointed out that Citadel’s investment in Regeneron is a “tiny fraction” of its investments, but that it would profit as the company’s stock price goes up.
Pushaw told The Free Press that Citadel is not even among Regeneron’s top 100 investors.
Even deeper in its story, the AP did quote Pushaw, who in part pointed out that Citadel held much larger stakes in Moderna and Pfizer, which produce the vaccines.
But Pushaw, according to Veerasingham’s letter, retweeted the story and urged her followers on Twitter to “drag them,” referring to the AP. “That was a direct effort to activate an online mob to attack a journalist for doing his job. It resulted in a torrent of abusive comments directed at the reporter.”
As the letter made the rounds on Twitter on Friday, some users tweeted out the AP story that uncritically accepted that high school students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky had harassed a Native American “activist” at the 2019 March for Life. Those users suggested the AP two years ago was “activating” the mob to go after those young men.
Continuing, Veerasingham wrote, “This is unacceptable behavior from a government employee, especially one whose job it is to work with the media and communicate with the public.”
“Journalists are regularly subjected to abuse, rape threats, people stalking their family members, and hacking their online personas. These actions can lead to violence and personal injury, and mental health consequences.”
Veerasingham called on DeSantis to “eliminate this attack strategy” from his press office. “It certainly has no place in a democracy that values robust and civil public discussion.”
The AP, of course, also failed to mention how its brethren filed heavily edited hit pieces on DeSantis, such as a “60 Minutes” segment that falsely claimed DeSantis was engaged in a pay-for-play vaccine scheme to benefit Publix.
Nor will they listen to people like Seth Mandel, editor of the conservative Washington Examiner magazine, who tweeted about the letter on Friday: “This is insane. They’re just trying to stop Christina from pushing back. She pushed back on me the other day and I didn’t write a letter to her boss. She’s doing her job.”
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