Twitter locked the account of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' Press Secretary Christina Pushaw for 12 hours on Friday due to abusive behavior and targeted harassment of reporters. Pushaw allegedly harassed an AP reporter via Twitter, after which, the social media platform temporarily shuttered her account due to "abusive behavior."
Christina Pushaw apparently disagreed with a Tuesday story from Associated Press reporter Brendan Farrington, about a multimillion dollar DeSantis donor who also invested in a company producing Regeneron, a drug used to treat COVID patients, reported the New York Post.
Pushaw Threatened to Put Farrington "On Blast" If the Story Wasn't Changed
According to AP, Pushaw tweeted the article and wrote "drag them" in a post that was later deleted. In another tweet, she told Farrington that if AP did not change the story she would "put you on blast." AP said she also retweeted a post that said "Light. Them. Up." in reference to the outlet.
Farrington said he received death threats after Pushaw's tweets. When Pushaw learned Farrington had been threatened, the spokeswoman deleted the "drag them" tweet, telling her followers "nobody should be threatening anyone."
"I'll be fine, I hope. Freedom. Just please don't kill me," Farrington later tweeted about the threats.
What Was There in the AP Story?
While the headline of Farrington's story drew attention to the donor's investment in Regeneron, the story details how the hedge fund invested more in vaccine manufacturers but notes that "the relationship (with Regeneron) has generated a buzz on social media, as Democrats question the relationship," reported Florida Politics.
'Journalists Are Regularly the Targets of Abuse, Stalking, and Threats of Violence'
AP wrote a letter to DeSantis' office asking for her behavior to stop, reported Insider.
"This type of behavior can cause great harm," the letter said, adding that journalists are regularly the targets of abuse, stalking, and threats of violence.
"While we can disagree about stories, it is unacceptable and dangerous for a public official to encourage the systemic bullying of journalists," it continued. "It is the type of behavior that the United States government routinely criticizes in other nations."
Twitter banned Pushaw's account shortly after the letter was sent.
Pushaw Criticized Twitter for the Decision to Lock her Account
Earlier on Friday, August 20, the AP published an article calling on DeSantis to end Pushaw's "harassing behavior." The article quoted Pushaw as saying she didn't know that "drag them" was meant to be taken as a threat.
Pushaw, in an email to Insider, conveyed the backlash the reporter was receiving was the "direct result of his and AP's decision to cherry-pick facts to prop up a false narrative." She also criticized Twitter for the decision to lock her account, saying that none of her tweets were abusive, reported Insider.
Social Media Reactions
Many netizens criticized Pushaw for her behavior. One Twitter user wrote, "Your title should be Drama Secretary. I hoped your tweets would provide insight to @GovRonDeSantis policies & statements. Instead, it's unending stream of reality TV like grievance. Constant fighting with press and complaints. Little info or insight. Chaos doesn't make FL better."
One comment read, "Lessons are not learned in 12 hours." Another read, "If you're a Floridian wondering what's missing from your timeline, it's Christina Pushaw not sending trolls to attack journalists, at least for the next 12 hours. Enjoy it."
Some netizens associated the angle of BLM to this story. One user said, "In 2020 we held a solidarity demonstration with protests happening in the United States after the murder of George Floyd and #BlackLivesMatter in Tbilisi. Christina Pushaw, close with Saakashvili called us terrorists and disrupted the event."