Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis fires back at Associated Press CEO after criticism of press secretary Another Florida school district will require masks, bucking DeSantis’s orders School mask battle grips Texas MORE (R) wrote a scathing letter to the head of The Associated Press on Monday, saying the news outlet “deserved blowback” for a recent story about a top donor to his political campaign.
“You cannot recklessly smear your political opponents and then expect to be immune from criticism,” DeSantis wrote to CEO Daisy Veerasingham. “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 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?”
The governor’s remarks came in response to a letter Veerasingham sent his office late last week accusing press secretary Christina Pushaw of “harassing behavior” toward an AP reporter, saying the public shaming had resulted in threats against the reporter.
The journalist, Brendan Farrington, wrote an article on Aug. 18 suggesting a connection between a top donor to the governor’s campaign and DeSantis’s recent promotion of an antibody drug used in some cases to treat COVID-19.
DeSantis, in his letter to the AP, called the premise of the story a “conspiracy theory” and defended Pushaw’s actions, saying the news outlet “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,” he said.
The AP has said it stands by Farrington’s reporting.
DeSantis, who is seen as a strong contender for a potential White House run in 2024, has drawn criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In early August, DeSantis threatened to pull funding from school districts that implemented mask MANDATES for students and staff. He later backed off the threat.
In a tweet last week, Farrington said, “I hope government doesn’t threaten your safety” before making his account private.
“I’ll be fine, I hope,” he said in the tweet. “Freedom. Just please don’t kill me.”