A journalist said he faced death threats after Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), responded to an article by him saying she would put him “on blast” unless he changed its content and headline to her liking.
Brendan Farrington, who writes for The Associated Press, detailed in an article published this week how DeSantis has been traveling around Florida touting a monoclonal antibody treatment, created by a company called Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc., following huge increases in the levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the state. The treatment is deemed an effective way to treat individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID, reducing hospitalizations and deaths by a rate of around 70 percent.
Farrington noted in his article that DeSantis — who is adamantly anti-mask (so much so that he has products on his campaign site demonstrating his animus toward them) and who has also significantly downplayed the effectiveness of vaccines (which have reduced hospitalizations and deaths by about 95 percent) — has benefited from the political contributions of a hedge fund executive whose company has invested nearly $16 million in Regeneron. Ken Griffin, who is the CEO of a Chicago-based hedge fund called Citadel, has given more than $10 million over the past three years to a political committee that supports DeSantis, Farrington wrote.
The Florida governor has notably touted the antibody treatment in appearances throughout the state, but he has not promoted vaccines and masks — which are also life-saving measures individuals can take to prevent being harmed by the virus — in the same way, Farrington noted in his article.
“Experts agree that keeping people out of the hospital is a top priority, but say vaccines — not treatments for people after they get sick – are the best way to do that,” Farrington wrote.
Pushaw responded to the article on Tuesday night by demanding The AP and Farrington change its headline, which read, “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes.” The headline is factually accurate, but Pushaw said it was misleading, and warned there would be consequences for Farrington if it wasn’t changed.
“Fix your conspiracy BS or I will put you on blast. Tomorrow morning at 8AM is the deadline,” Pushaw said in a tweet.
Pushaw did not wait until morning, however, and spent much of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning deriding Farrington’s article. She did delete that tweet a couple of hours later — apparently after Farrington received death threats — along with another tweet she purportedly made (according to Florida progressive activist Thomas Kennedy who saved it) in which she urged her followers to “drag” Farrington. When asked about it, Pushaw said she had deleted the tweet(s) because the journalist and The AP had refused to change the content of the article.
Pushaw continued to suggest, however, that Farrington was misleading readers with his factually wrong reporting about DeSantis without providing any clarifications to the contrary. On Wednesday morning, Farrington tweeted that the press secretary’s actions had led to his receiving threats against his life from DeSantis supporters.
“Waking up in the middle of the night to see death threats and hate messages from people about a story @GovRonDeSantis office said is factually true,” Farrington tweeted. “For your sake, I hope government doesn’t threaten your safety. I’ll be fine. I hope. Freedom. Just Please don’t kill me.”
Pushaw has since responded by issuing a tweet on Wednesday morning stating “nobody should be sending death threats to anyone else.” But in that same tweet she continued haranguing Farrington, saying “journalists shouldn’t write stories to discourage COVID patients from getting lifesaving regeneron by politicizing a clinically proven treatment” (though Farrington’s article did no such thing).
The tweet is disingenuous in the extreme for the simple fact that Pushaw’s boss, the governor of Florida, has spent the last few weeks signing laws against local governments and municipalities taking basic lifesaving public health measures against COVID such as wearing masks.