With Dr. Anthony Fauci saying monoclonal antibodies can help reduce the risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 patients, some Associated Press critics are pointing to its story suggesting a political angle to Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., promoting the same treatment.
In its controversial report last week, the AP admitted the benefits of a Regeneron antibody treatment, but appeared to imply DeSantis was promoting the drug because a Chicago-based hedge fund that donated to a pro-DeSantis political committee also owns shares of the company.
Now that the White House chief medical adviser is touting the same treatment, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw and other supporters of the governor mocked the AP for its earlier reporting.
"Wait isn’t this the thing Ron DeSantis promoted that the @AP tried to discredit?" asked "Relatable" podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey.
DeSantis himself responded to the AP's apparent "smear," penning an unusual open letter to the outlet in which he warned its reporting could undermine trust in the treatment.
"I assumed your letter was to notify me that you were issuing a retraction of the partisan smear piece you published last week," DeSantis wrote. "Instead, you had the temerity to complain about the deserved blowback that your botched and discredited attempt to concoct a political narrative has received. The ploy will not work to divert attention from the fact that the Associated Press published a false narrative that will lead some to decline effective treatment for COVID infections."
The AP report was one of several media attacks on the Republican governor in the past year. Perhaps most notably, CBS' "60 Minutes" ran a now-infamous segment accusing DeSantis of giving the Publix grocery store chain priority treatment to offer the coronavirus vaccine based on its donations to his PAC. DeSantis demanded the show "admit" the narrative was false.
Some observers say DeSantis and his team should consider these media "hit jobs" a badge of honor.
"It’s clear that they recognize that Governor DeSantis is the future of the Republican Party, and they’re laying the foundation for their talking points for when everyone else catches up to that fact, too," journalist Drew Holden said of the liberal media.