The White House And The Media Blatantly Spread Misinformation About Ron DeSantis And Florida’s Leadership

The White House and multiple mainstream news outlets falsely claimed late this week that Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis barred health providers from purchasing coronavirus vaccines for children under five years old, later saying he had “reversed course” on the decision.

DeSantis bumped heads with Washington and the media this week when he said he did not support the vaccine in younger children and was the only Governor who did not pre-order the vaccine before the FDA’s approval. 

This initial stream of misinformation originated from McClatchy DC. This outlet published a report entitled, “DeSantis reverses, allowing Florida healthcare providers to order vaccines for kids.” 

The article claimed that “DeSantis is now allowing healthcare providers, including pediatricians and children’s hospitals, to order COVID-19 vaccines from a federal program for children between six months and five years old, a reversal from earlier this week, White House officials told McClatchy.”

The article’s author, Michael Wilner, utilized the report to capture a statement from Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who further supported the misinformation and appeared to verify the false claims that DeSantis had blocked the vaccine for children in Florida. 

“We are encouraged that after repeated failures by Governor DeSantis to order COVID-19 vaccines even after every other state had ordered, the State of Florida is now permitting healthcare providers to order COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest children,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told McClatchy. 

She went on to say, “Even though Governor DeSantis reversed course and is now ordering vaccines, we will pull every lever to get pediatricians across Florida vaccines as quickly as possible.”

Jean-Pierre has already built a laundry list of misinformation disseminated from her position in the White House. She has previously made false claims about unemployment rates, which Politifact pointed out as false. She also noted recently that President Biden condemned the attempted assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which is also false. 

DeSantis’ Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Lapado, spoke out against the misinformation on Friday, calling out the White House for its role in spreading the lies about DeSantis and the state’s leadership. 

“FL never ‘reversed course.’ We recommended against COVID-19 vax for healthy children in March b/c there was no strong evidence of benefit. This remains the same for healthy kids <5. Providers have always been able to order vaccines. This never changed,” he posted on Twitter. 

“Nice Try @WhiteHouse,” he concluded.

Others in Florida also spoke up, pointing out the lies being spread from Washington. 

Jeremy Redfern, the Florida Department of Health’s press secretary, said that “the fact that the White House is trying to say that we somehow changed our approach is a complete lie.”

“Exactly zero reversals happened,” he said on Twitter.

He went further calling out The Washington Post for its plans to publish an article also parroting the misinformation about DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health, again signaling that they had somehow blocked doctors from accessing the ability to order the vaccine. He tagged his post a “fake news alert” on Twitter.

Bryan Griffin, Florida’s Deputy Press Secretary, also spoke up. He expressed that the White House lied, knowing that no one had access to order the vaccine ahead of the FDA approval of its use. 

Griffin called our Forbes for publishing the false information, further spreading the lies started in Washington. 

He clarified the truth about access to the vaccine in a number of posts on Twitter on Friday.

“Healthcare providers have never been able to order vaccines that aren’t approved by the FDA. FDA approval came today, NATIONWIDE. WHY would the White House try to characterize this as a reversal?” he said

Others also pointed out that even major healthcare providers, such as Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, claimed they did not have access to order the vaccine. The false statement was picked up by news outlets across the state and the nation. No institution could place the orders until after the FDA approval was issued on Friday. 

Christina Pushaw, Press Secretary for Governor DeSantis, said on Friday, “You’re correct. The White House lied and the media reported it as fact.”

She stated, “The White House @PressSec &  @McClatchyDC are spreading disinformation. NOTHING has ‘reversed’ or changed. The State of Florida is not placing any orders of covid shots for 0-5 year old babies & kids.”

Once again, the White House, the mainstream media, and the heavily Democratic sentiment that pervades Washington played a role in spreading misinformation, vilifying one of the nation’s most prominent Republican leaders and governments. 

Pushaw called out the media’s hypocrisy, saying, “So let’s get this straight. The media is allowed to lie (not mislead, not be biased, but flat out PUBLISH THINGS THAT ARE FALSE). And we cannot criticize them or it’s ‘harassment.'” 

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