Leer en Español
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is one of the most criticized politicians by the liberal media over the past year, on many occasions, the press attacked him with inflammatory reports full of out-of-context facts, misquoted quotes, or patently false narratives.
The false stories that the press has invented to try to destroy DeSantis abound. In the last few months, there have been at least 5 stories that have caused great controversy because of their poor reporting. This makes it clear that, in recent years, the American media have moved away from the informative craft seeking to favor partisan lines by discrediting political actors not aligned with their editorial lines.
60 minutes and the infamous edited video
In April 2021, CBS News’ 60 Minutes released an evidently edited video showing reporter Sharyn Alfonsi setting up DeSantis during a press conference. In her question, Alfonsi suggested that the Florida governor and Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had made a deal for the company to donate money to the DeSantis campaign in order to get the contract to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Florida. The edited video mentions that the governor dodged the question, which is false.
According to a full transcript obtained by the Daily Wire, DeSantis addressed the reporter’s question quickly and gave a full and forceful response to the allegations. The transcript shows that the edited video does not contain even 50% of the Florida governor’s response, and at no time did he ignore the issue raised by the reporter.
Beyond the edited video, which in itself is a serious breach of any journalistic code of ethics, CBS News reporter Alfonsi herself wrongly suggested a corrupt link between DeSantis and Publix.
As per Jared Moskowitz, a former Democratic state representative who now serves as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Publix was not even originally recommended by Governor DeSantis’ office, but by the state’s own Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
“60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. Publix was recommended by FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governors office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey,” the Democrat wrote on Twitter.
Later, Publix also released a scathing statement against 60 minutes: “The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” Publix said in a scathing statement slamming the “60 Minutes” segment. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.”
Univision and the Misrepresentation of the Facts
Univision is one of the most important Spanish-language news networks in the United States. Being Florida a state where the Latino community is so relevant, the Spanish-language media play a transcendental role in generating opinion about political actors or issues.
With regard to Ron DeSantis, Univision, in June 2021, decided to twist the Florida governor’s position regarding the presentation of passports for the reactivation of the cruise industry.
“The cruise industry already has the green light to conduct test voyages and, subsequently, return to operating in American waters after the hard blow that the pandemic meant for that sector. However, companies are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking them to comply with a series of requirements; on the other hand, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis opposes some of them,” explained the voice-over in the Univision report.
“He says his intention is to reactivate tourism to help workers in that sector and he rejects that on test trips the crew must be fully vaccinated, as well as 75 % of the passengers,” Univision continued explaining.
The voiceover misrepresents the governor’s position. At no time did DeSantis say he is against crew being required to be fully vaccinated, the governor, as he always explained, is simply against the mandatory requirement to present a vaccination passport.
“The segment on Univision blatantly lied about Governor DeSantis’ position on vaccine passports and the cruise industry. The Governor does not reject the idea that anyone should be vaccinated; his position is that choosing to get a COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision and must not be mandated – by the government or by corporations,” reads part of the office’s response to Univision. “Therefore, he opposes the CDC’s efforts to coerce cruise lines to break Florida law by requiring proof of vaccination from passengers,” DeSantis’ office responded.
Hannah Dreier and how to generate fake news on Twitter
Fake news don’t necessarily start with articles, they can also start with a fake tweet. This was the case of Hannah Dreier, a Washington Post (WaPo) reporter, who said on her Twitter account that Governor Ron DeSantis, in the midst of the Surfside tragedy, took up to 24 hours to declare a state emergency and the deployment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), suggesting that the agency delayed in reaching the collapse because of the governor’s responsibility and key hours were lost to rescue victims.
“There’s a saying in emergency management: The first 24 hours are the only 24 hours,” Dreier wrote. “FEMA was ready to deploy to the condo collapse almost immediately, and included the crisis in its daily briefing, but didn’t get permission from Gov. DeSantis to get on the ground for a full day.”
Dreier’s statement, while not completely false, lacks context and explanation:
First, when there is a natural disaster, the first action or response falls to the local government. In this case, it would be Democrat Daniella Cava, mayor of Miami-Dade, where the Surfside tragedy occurred.
Therefore, Miami Dade County quickly sent its rescue teams and FEMA has 2 teams in that county that joined the rescue crews moments after the collapse. In other words, it didn’t take FEMA 24 hours to show up on the scene, as the WaPo reporter’s tweet hints.
“FEMA’s mantra is “locally executed, state managed, and federal supported.” As the former director in FL who voted for Biden this tweet below is 100% Malarkey. FEMA would have deployed the federally funded USAR teams, which are located in @MiamiDadeCounty They were already there.”
Second, DeSantis did not take 24 hours to declare the emergency, it only took one hour, as the mayor signed the local emergency declaration at 4:33 PM one day after the landslide and DeSantis signed the state emergency at 5:32 PM. Then, 10 hours later, Joe Biden authorized federal assistance.
In addition, “At 2:30 AM, right after the building collapsed, the state of Florida through its division of emergency management, controlled by the Governor, deployed to Surfside,” Pushaw told El American. “A few hours later, first thing in the morning – Gov DeSantis called Mayor of Surfside and asked if they need help.”
Basically, there was very good coordination between Democrats and Republicans on the Surfside tragedy, but mainstream journalists hinted at a different story in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
The Associated Press and an unsubstantiated “news story”
In journalism school, the first thing they teach future communicators is that not every fact is news. Not every fact is relevant. Not everything that happens is important. And clearly, if a fact is not newsworthy, it is basically not something productive to cover. However, that rule of journalistic common sense is not followed at The Associated Press (AP), the international news agency that suggested that Ron DeSantis was promoting monoclonal antibody treatment out of mere political cronyism.
The article titled, “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes.” In a tweet, the AP touts the story as follows: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been criticized for opposing mask mandates, is now touting a COVID-19 antibody treatment in which a top donor’s company has invested millions of dollars. DeSantis has been promoting the treatment as virus cases spike.”
The article, written by journalist Brendan Farrington, reads, “Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc., according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.”
The AP’s approach to the story is unfortunate, especially since it ignored, at the outset, a fact that mangled its article: Citadel is not among Regeneron’s top 100 investors, yet BlackRock, a prominent campaign donor to President Joe Biden and several major Democratic politicians, is Regeneron’s second-largest investor. Both the Biden and DeSantis administrations promote monoclonal antibody treatments because they may be vital to preventing deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.
AP did not mention this detail in the original version of the story, then updated the content following hundreds of criticisms, however, it did not update the headline or leave an editor’s note explaining this contextual error.
What AP did do was release a statement from DeSantis and his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, for starting a Twitter campaign against the journalists and news agency involved in the misrepresented story. So far, the title of the story has not been corrected.
Miami Herald spreading misinformation
The Miami Herald newspaper, like the AP, put out an investigative report with no context or news support.
“Florida changed its COVID-19 data, creating an ‘artificial decline’ in recent deaths,” reads the title of the Miami newspaper’s story, which suggests that the state is manipulating the death numbers. However, as explained by the Florida Department of Health, the variation in the numbers is due to a simple adjustment to account for deaths by dates of death, as is done in 11 other states and also in New York City.
The Department of Health said the headline “is completely incorrect and misleads the public. Florida reports COVID-19 deaths by date of death for precision, accuracy, and transparency in public communications.” The information provided by the Department is supported by epidemiologist Dr. Jason Salemi, who argues that counting COVID-19 deaths by date of death is the best way to record deaths.
The Miami Herald article spread all over the Internet, and many political enemies of DeSantis, such as Nikki Fried, used the piece to attack the governor. Likewise, many national media outlets fell into the Herald’s trap, spreading the article.
The most curious of all, is that the Miami Herald denied itself, since the report came out last August 31, however, on August 14, the newspaper itself published an article explaining the new procedure for counting deaths applied in Florida, at that time, nothing was said about the variation as a way of altering the public records of deaths by COVID-19.
This form of “journalism” in the mainstream media is the best explanation for why Americans today do not trust the press. These 5 fake news are just a taste of how some of the major U.S. media outlets are working.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
Contacto: [email protected]