DeSantis Punches Back At AP’s Political ‘Smear Piece’ Peddling COVID ‘Conspiracy Theory’

DeSantis Punches Back At AP’s Political ‘Smear Piece’ Peddling COVID ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis punched back at the Associated Press for spreading a “conspiracy theory” about him and his COVID-19 response.

DeSantis penned the letter to the AP’s newly appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer Daisy Veerasingham just days after the outlet published a “smear piece” targeting the Republican and one of his “top donors” who “invested in a COVID drug [the] governor promotes.” His response also addressed the AP’s complaints that one of his aides engaged in “harassing behavior” after the corrupt media organization moved forward with publishing the story.

“I assumed your letter was to notify me that you were issuing a retraction of the partisan smear piece you published last week. Instead, you had the temerity to complain about the deserved blowback that your botched and discredited attempt to concoct a political narrative has received,” DeSantis wrote on Monday. “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.”

The governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw was suspended from Twitter over the weekend after she publicly called out the corporate outlet for its reporting malfeasance.

DeSantis acknowledged 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” even 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 wrote. “This story is a baseless conspiracy theory.”

Trust in corporate media outlets, DeSantis noted, is already at “historic lows” and “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. 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.”

In addition to 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 governor condemned the Associated Press for using a “‘clicks-first, facts later’ approach to journalism,” which he said “is harming our country.”

“The AP’s attempt to create a political narrative has backfired, as the conspiracy theory has been easily debunked and the credibility of your organization has been further diminished. This is what happens when you decide on the headline and narrative before you begin reporting,” DeSantis said.

“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.

Corporate media outlets such as the Associated Press have repeatedly targeted DeSantis for his state’s COVID-19 response. In April, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” aired a deceptively edited video that cut out the governor’s response to the false allegations about vaccine prioritization in Florida based on donor dollars launched at him by the interviewer. Other news organizations ganged up on the Republican and used him as a scapegoat for rising COVID cases despite blue states with harsher lockdowns faring far worse.

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.
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