‘Clicks First, Facts Later’: DeSantis Backhands Associated Press Over Latest ‘Smear Piece’

(USA Features) Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out at The Associated Press in a letter dated Monday after the newswire service published a “conspiracy theory” about him and his administration’s response to the pandemic.

The letter, to the wire service’s newly appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer Daisy Veerasingham, comes a few days after the AP pushed a “smear piece” aimed at DeSenatis and one of his “top donors” who “invested in a COVID drug [the] governor promotes.

In addition, the Florida Republican’s letter also addressed the AP’s complaints that an aide of the governor engaged in “harassing behavior” after the newswire published the story, which was made available to all of the newswire’s subscribers.

“I assumed your letter was to notify me that you were issuing a retraction of the partisan smear piece you published last week,” DeSantis wrote.

“Instead, you had the temerity to complain about the deserved blowback that your botched and discredited attempt to concoct a political narrative has received.

“This 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 added.

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Christina Pushaw, who is DeSantis’ press secretary, was suspended from Twitter over the weekend after she called the AP out over its story.

The governor charged that “the purpose of the headline and the framing of the story was to smear me by insinuating that Florida’s push to expand awareness of and access to monoclonal antibody treatments was done to boost Regeneron’s profit, rather than to simply help Floridians in need,” though it “is not even a plausible concept.”

“The AP produced zero evidence that Florida’s efforts are being undertaken for any reason other than to help Floridians recover from COVID. This will have real consequences for people’s health, especially given that the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment has a proven track record and has been touted by both the Trump and Biden administrations,” DeSantis continued.

“This story is a baseless conspiracy theory.”

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While Americans’ trust in corporate media outlets, DeSantis wrote, is already at “historic lows,” he nevertheless added that “there is no doubt that some will decline to seek life-saving treatment as a result of the AP’s inflammatory headline.”

“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,” DeSantis said.

You cannot recklessly smear your political opponents and then expect to be immune from criticism,” he continued.

“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.”

After expressing support for his staff, “who went out of their way to provide the AP with the factual information necessary to dispel the AP’s preferred narrative,” the Florida governor blasted the Associated Press for using a “‘clicks-first, facts later’ approach to journalism,” which he noted “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?” DeSantis concluded.