DeSantis Team Hits Back at Politico for ‘Intentionally Misleading’ Headline: ‘Media Malpractice’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rapid response director Christina Pushaw accused Politico of “media malpractice” on Thursday for publishing a misleading headline exaggerating the concern among local doctors over DeSantis’ medical “free speech” initiative.
In the piece titled “Florida doctors worried DeSantis gives ‘fringe’ dermatologist a platform,” Politico’s Matt Dixon claimed that Florida doctor Jon Ward’s close association with DeSantis worries Florida’s medical community due to his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine and certain pandemic restrictions.
Dixon wrote that Ward, who has appeared at various events alongside the governor, aligns with DeSantis on COVID issues and has been given a platform by the governor to promote his “fringe” positions as DeSantis moves to put free speech protections in place for medical providers.
The story was fiercely denounced by Pushaw on Twitter, who pointed out that only one identified public health worker – from Michigan – was quoted in the story, in addition to nine anonymous members of the Florida Medical Association who reportedly claimed they were concerned that fellow member Ward’s boost from DeSantis could help him spread “medical misinformation.”
Pushaw, also emphasized that the story includes “about a half dozen” additional sources who expressed support for Ward.
“Media malpractice: Journactivist @Mdixon55 writes @politico headline that ‘Florida doctors’ are ‘worried’ about @dermatophyte speaking at Gov. DeSantis’ presser. Story quotes: – 1 doctor in Michigan – 9 anonymous sources against Ward – ‘about a half dozen’ sources supporting Ward,” she wrote on Twitter.
Pushaw slammed the headline as “intentionally misleading” in a subsequent tweet.
“The @Mdixon55 @politico headline is intentionally misleading. ‘Florida doctors’ are not a monolith. As the article itself admits, they have different opinions, which is good and exactly why we need protections for medical professionals’ freedom of speech,” she wrote.
After it was pointed out that the University of Michigan public health worker quoted was not a doctor, as Pushaw presumed, she said, “Ah, no surprise that Journactivist Matt Dixon would reach out to her then. Hilarious that he casts a Michigan public health activist as the spokesperson for ‘Florida doctors.’ Politico isn’t even trying anymore!”
Ward also pushed back against the story on Twitter, highlighting other errors he found in Dixon’s reporting while slamming his “journal-activism.”
“Yeah Matt had some real trouble with this one… I’m just a dermatologist but he uses the same quote twice and then can’t get a simple date I was appointed to @nwfstatecollege right… rough day for journal-activism!” he wrote.
After Pushaw replied, “Hahahaha wow. He gets paid to do this shoddy of a job?” Ward called Dixon “The @PeteButtigieg of Journactivism.”
DeSantis has become a target of the mainstream media after gaining prominence in the Republican Party, prompting fierce online reactions from Pushaw, his former press secretary.