Journalism without context is dangerous, as it often omits details that basically end up generating misinformation. This is what happened with Hannah Dreier, a reporter for The Washington Post, who published a fake news story about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ response to the tragic building collapse in Surfside, Miami.
According to Dreier, DeSantis took 24 hours to declare a state emergency and to order the deployment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), suggesting that potential lives were lost because the agency was slow to respond to the collapse.
“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.”
The reporter failed to provide context and key important details that explain why DeSantis was not negligent and, in fact, did not take 24 hours to approve the deployment or state emergency. Thus, what she implies in her tweet is demonstrably false.
FEMA was in Surfside from the very first moment
When there are natural disasters, the first action or response is from the local government. In this case, from Democrat Daniella Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade.
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Miami-Dade County first sent its rescue teams, such as firefighters, and FEMA has 2 teams in Miami-Dade County that joined the first moments of crisis after the collapse. Thus, it didn’t take FEMA 24 hours to show up on the scene, as the tweet from the WaPo reporter hints.
Jared Maskowitz, who is a former FEMA director in Florida and a Democrat, directly disavowed Dreier, calling her claims “100% Malarkey.”
DeSantis did not take 24 hours to sign the emergency declaration, but only one
Despite the fact that the Post reporter explicitly says it took Florida’s governor 24 hours to authorize FEMA’s deployment. That is not true either.
El American spoke with Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who refuted Dreier’s claims, explaining that DeSantis’ emergency declaration waited for Mayor Cava’s first movement. In addition, he also commented that the state’s rescue teams were working from the first instant of crisis.
“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.”
“Then Gov DeSantis came to Surfside – the same day of the disaster. Mayor of Miami Dade, Daniella Cava, who is a Democrat, is running the search and rescue. DeSantis asked her if she needed anything and helped her get whatever Miami-Dade needed from the state of Florida. At 4:33 PM, Mayor Cava signed a local emergency declaration. 5:32 PM – one hour later, DeSantis signed the emergency declaration, which must come at the local level first and then at the state level.”
As stated by the governor’s press secretary, 10 hours later after DeSantis’ emergency declaration, “10 hours later, the next morning, Biden authorized the federal assistance. Mayor Cava and Governor DeSantis have been working well together. Now is the time to put politics and partisanship aside and help people.”
Washington Post journalist is yet to correct her story
Beyond publishing decontextualized information that generated misinformation on her social media, Hannah Dreier still did not publish an erratum or apologize for her publication.
On the afternoon of June 27, Christina Pushaw reported that she contacted the Washington Post reporter and provided her with all the details about the case.
As Pushaw confirmed to El American, Dreier has yet to reply to her messages and never reached out for comment before posting.
“That’s why I am putting them on blast now. @hannahdreier has had PLENTY of time to respond to me in private, get the facts and correct her false narratives but refuses to do so. So now it’s a public matter,” Pushaw said in a second tweet.
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.
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