If you stopped reading the news coming out of Florida on Tuesday, you would be left with the clear impression that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Sunshine State’s government was gearing up for a major coronavirus coverup.
The implications were undeniable and shocking: Frightened that rising infection numbers would harm Florida’s chances of having a successful reopening, state leaders fired Rebekah Jones, the analyst responsible for the state’s highly-touted COVID-19 dashboard. Jones herself wasn’t shy about telling users and colleagues why she was being given the boot: The powers-that-be didn’t like her commitment to truth and transparency. She warned that those relying on the dashboard to make inferences about the state’s battle against the coronavirus shouldn’t expect the same level of transparency going forward.
Truly, the situation seemed dire, and the potential for scandal high.
Well…it turns out the media – including the Tampa Bay Times, NPR, and many national news organizations – jumped the gun on this one. Big time.
On Wednesday, DeSantis gave the media the real story on Jones – the one they couldn’t bother to investigate themselves.
“She’s not a data scientist,” DeSantis said. “She’s somebody that’s got a degree in journalism, communication & geography. She is not involved in collating any data; she does not have the expertise to do that. She is not an epidemiologist; she is not the chief architect of our web portal; that is another false statement, and what she was doing was she was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn’t believe was valid data. So she didn’t listen to the people who were her superiors; she had many people above her in the chain of command, and so then she was dismissed because of that and because of a bunch of different reasons about how she did.
“She’s also under active criminal charges in the state of Florida; she is being charged with cyber-stalking and cyber-sexual harassment,” he continued. “So I’ve asked the Department of Health to explain to me how someone would be allowed to be charged with that and continue on, because this was many months ago. I have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. So her supervisor dismissed her because of a lot of those reasons and it was a totally valid way, but she should have been dismissed long before that.”
So. Suck on that, “journalists.”
This is another embarrassing fake news scandal at a time when the media want so desperately for red states to fall flat on their collective faces and watch their populations die by the tens of thousands…just to prove a point. Coronavirus Derangement Syndrome is spreading at least as quickly as the virus itself.