Last week, the Associated Press (AP) published a story regarding Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his push for monoclonal antibody treatment, which is sold by Regeneron. In the wake of the article, DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, found her Twitter account suspended for allegedly “harassing” the reporter who broke the AP story.
In the original article, Brendan Farrington, who wrote the piece, noted Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, owns over $15 million of Regeneron. The CEO of Citadel, Ken Griffin, is a multi-million-dollar donor to the DeSantis campaign.
DeSantis has been previously touting the monoclonal antibody treatments for patients with early-onset symptoms and said hospitalizations have been reduced by as much as 70 percent during clinical trials.
As a result of the article, Pushaw, criticized the framing of the article as it made it sound like a “cheap political innuendo”
“The issue is that most people only read the headline,” Pushaw said to Fox News. “I have an issue with the headline because it frames it up as though there’s pay to play going on or a conflict of interest when there is not, and he admits as much in the article.”
Pushaw then posted a series of tweets in response to Farrington’s article.
“Hey @bsfarrington. Sad to see this cheap political innuendo from AP,” Pushaw said. “Should be ‘DeSantis & Biden Agree Monoclonals Save Lives.’ You KNEW this isn’t a story. You KNOW you can’t defend it. You said your ‘boss’s boss’ wouldn’t change the headline—& you refused to tell me his name.”
Hey @bsfarrington. Sad to see this cheap political innuendo from AP. Should be “DeSantis & Biden Agree Monoclonals Save Lives.”
You KNEW this isn’t a story. You KNOW you can’t defend it. You said your “boss’s boss” wouldn’t change the headline—& you refused to tell me his name. pic.twitter.com/5dA5jP1Ys1
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) August 18, 2021
Pushaw issued a statement to Fox News saying Farrington received info for the new treatment and the Griffin connection, but said he was pressured to write the story.
“Farrington — the AP writer — got info from me before writing it,” said Pushaw to Fox News. “He totally ignored the facts, and he even admitted to me that there isn’t a story/smoking gun and he didn’t want to write it. He claims his boss made him write it and wanted that particular headline. Extremely bizarre and makes no sense— there is NOTHING to this allegation.”
After the series of tweets, Pushaw found her Twitter account suspended and “has been locked for 12 hours for violating the Twitter Rules on abusive behavior.”
Fox News reporter Joseph Wulfsohn noted that Twitter declined to comment when asked what specific violations Pushaw participated in.
Twitter confirmed to Fox News that DeSantis Press Secretary @ChristinaPushaw's account "has been locked for 12 hours for violating the Twitter Rules on abusive behavior" amid the dustup w/ the AP.
When asked what specific tweets violated the rules, Twitter declined to comment.
— Joseph A. Wulfsohn (@JosephWulfsohn) August 20, 2021
After Pushaw’s suspension, the AP sent a letter to DeSantis calling on him to “eliminate this attack strategy from your press office” after Pushaw’s “direct effort to activate an online mob to attack.”
The @AssociatedPress is writing @GovRonDeSantis today re: his press secretary, @ChristinaPushaw, and her "direct effort to activate an online mob to attack" a @FLPressCorps reporter. "We call on you to eliminate this attack strategy from your press office," the AP's exec VP asks. pic.twitter.com/ghyK7Lwy2K
— Troy Kinsey (@TroyKinsey) August 20, 2021
The DeSantis administration and Pushaw both said they did not condone the threats toward Farrington.
Farrington, who has since added security measures to his Twitter account, said he woke up to death threats after Pushaw told an “online mob” to harass Farrington. The AP has publicly said they stand by the original story.
Pushaw responded to her suspension by saying she felt the AP politicized an opportunity for Floridians to get help for COVID treatment using the monoclonal antibody therapy.
“They got caught publishing misinformation that could endanger the lives of Floridians by making them unduly trust a life-saving treatment … over a governor they’ve decided they don’t like,” Pushaw said. “They got called out for it in part because of me, in part because the story was so obviously wrong … They brought this on themselves by publishing this kind of dangerous misinformation.”
Dan Sweeney, a Deputy Opinions Editor at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who self-described his editorial board at the Sun Sentinel as DeSantis critics, noted the AP story “doesn’t really add up.”
Yeah, we've been pretty big critics of DeSantis on the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, but this "DeSantis is hawking monoclonal antibodies to make a buck for a donor" story doesn't really add up.
That said, I do wish he'd have spent as much time hawking vaccines a few months ago. https://t.co/mG2x5qk9Ja
— Dan Sweeney (@Daniel_Sweeney) August 18, 2021
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Christina Pushaw” by Christina Pushaw. Background Photo “The Citadel Center, Chicago Loop, Chicago, Illinois” by Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.