The media got it wrong, again. The Wall Street Journal editorial board reports the big story the media avoided because it didn’t fit their narrative.
We’re talking about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, described as public-health enemy number one by the media for defying the left’s lockdown consensus early in the pandemic. When former state health department employee Rebekah Jones claimed she was fired for refusing to fudge state Covid data to support the state’s reopening in spring 2020, national and local media outlets reported her allegations as fact. They were only too happy to report anything negative about Governor DeSantis.
“Florida Dismisses a Scientist for Her Refusal to Manipulate State’s Coronavirus Data” reported National Public Radio (NPR). After the Florida Department of Law Enforcement executed a search warrant of her home, Ms. Jones claimed Mr. DeSantis had “sent the gestapo” to silence her. “FDLE raid dramatizes Florida’s Covid-19 Coverup” the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorialized. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!
But according to the Governor’s office, Ms. Jones was fired for repeated “insubordination” and making “unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s Covid-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.” Police searched her home because of a data breach traced to her home IP address. She was charged with a felony for accessing and downloading confidential health department data, including personal information of employees. She has pleaded not guilty.
The big news now is that the Florida department of Health Office of Inspector General has exonerated Governor DeSantis. The IG interviewed more than a dozen people who worked with state Covid data, including Ms. Jones’ supervisors. None of these corroborated her claims. Some said she had told them she was pressured to alter Covid case and death counts, but her allegations didn’t make sense to them, not least because she didn’t have access to the raw data to do so. Furthermore, to refer to her as a “scientist”, as NPR did, is an exaggeration. She is a geographer by training who previously worked on hurricane tracking systems, and her job was merely to assist with the Covid data’s online dashboard.
“If the complainant or other DOH staff were to have falsified Covid-19 data on the dashboard, the dashboard would then not have matched the data in the corresponding final daily report,” the IG explained, adding that “such a discrepancy” would surely have been detected by Bureau of Epidemiology staff, researchers or the media. The IG found no truth to any of Ms. Jones’ accusations.
Governor DeSantis was hailed as the most informed of all governors by Scott W. Atlas, M.D. in his recent book, A Plague Upon Our House. In a chapter called “The Florida Success Story,” Atlas says, “Governor DeSantis stood out among governors, because he was one of the very few who actually knew the data. And when I say he knew the data, I mean he personally sought out, critically analyzed, and truly understood every important detail about the pandemic. It was all about attention to detail, critical thinking, and a willingness to question the prevailing narrative when it did not pass the test of common sense.”
Don’t look for this exoneration of DeSantis to appear on the nightly news or in your favorite newspaper, apart from The Wall Street Journal. The media is quick to take up the story of a conservative who doesn’t go along with their narrative, but slow to own up to their own amplification of misinformation and made-up scandals. Personally, I believe we need more politicians, like DeSantis, who are willing to question Washington when things don’t make sense.