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Tampa Bay Times runs 'hit piece' on DeSantis press secretary on how she landed job, gets panned by critics

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The Tampa Bay Times ran a bizarre report targeting the recently-hired press secretary of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and how she landed her job. 

The report obtained the email sent to DeSantis’ office back in March by Christina Pushaw, an admirer of his tenure as governor, about potential job opportunities.

“She wrote that she was inspired to move to Florida because of how the governor navigated the pandemic. She was bothered by ‘pervasive … false narratives’ in the press, she said, saying she wanted to do her part to prevent the ‘devastation caused by socialism … from happening in our country,’” the Times hyped the email on Tuesday before including Pushaw’s explosive statement from the inquiry, which read, “If there are any openings on the governor’s comms team, I would love to throw my hat in the ring.” 

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The Times exposé continued, “It’s unclear who in the governor’s office saw Pushaw’s note, but it appears to have been received quite well. About six weeks later, the governor’s office sent her pre-employment paperwork to fill out. By May 10, she had the job of press secretary. Her salary is $120,000 per year.”

The Florida paper insisted Pushaw “reinvented” the position as press secretary of the governor from a “largely behind-the-scenes communications role” to “one of the loudest pro-DeSantis drumbeats on the internet,” drawing attention to her rapid Twitter activity. 

DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske declined to comment to the paper about Pushaw’s hiring process but called her “experienced, vocal, and intelligent.”

That apparently wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Times, who then delved into her resume, focusing on her tenure as a communications and media advisor for Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of the country of Georgia and a 2020 piece she allegedly had “ghostwritten” for him that addressed police reform in his country. Soon the piece dived into Saakashvili’s legal troubles that seem to have nothing to do with Pushaw. 

The report, which was also printed in the Miami Herald, also spent time going over Pushaw’s outspoken criticism of Rebekah Jones, the fired Florida Health Department employee whose accusations that the DeSantis administration ordered her to alter the state’s COVID data was dismantled in recent reports. However, media outlets like the Times and the Herald have attempted to salvage Jones’s credibility, highlighting how she received “whistleblower” status despite her claims having been rebuked. 

The Miami Herald ran its own headline when republishing the Times’ report reading “DeSantis’ prolific Twitter advocate used an admiring email to land job in his office.”

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Critics mocked the Times’s “hit piece” as well as the Herald on social media. 

“What kinda email are you supposed to send to a prospective employer?” journalist Zaid Jilani asked. “Basically she said that she seems to like DeSantis’s governance and that she wanted to work for him.”

“bahahaha every attempted DeSantis hit job fails in such spectacular fashion, they are so right to be terrified of him,” Washington Examiner commentator Tiana Lowe reacted.

“This looks to be a rather conventional pathway to employment. Does The Herald use another tactic, such as outreach to local methadone clinics for new writers? Asking, based on the content of late,” Townhall.com’s Brad Slager wrote. 

Twitter users also drew attention to the author of the piece, Tampa Bay Times state government reporter Kirby Wilson, who appears to be the son of the paper’s former managing editor Mike Wilson, now the deputy sports editor for The New York Times. 

According to his LinkedIn page, Kirby Wilson began working at the Tampa Bay paper in 2015, two years after his father left. 

Kirby Wilson did not respond to Fox News’ inquiries, including whether or not his father played any role in aiding his career in journalism and in his current employment at the Tampa Bay Times. 

Pushaw appeared gleeful of the apparent family revelation, reacting with “Lol.”

Pushaw told Fox News, “I am fortunate to be working for the best governor in the country, and honored that I was offered this job, because it’s a great opportunity to make a difference. Governor DeSantis is leading the fight for individual rights against big government overreach, woke corporations and lockdown lobbyists, and I’m proud to be a part of his team!”

She added, “It’s incredible how every time the corporate media attempts to do a hit piece on him, it backfires.”

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This is not the first time Kirby Wilson took aim at a DeSantis staffer. Back in November, he co-authored a piece describing another hire, COVID data analyst Kyle Lamb, as a “Uber-driving, conspiracy theorist blogger.”

“In frequent posts on Twitter and sports message boards, Lamb has said that masks don’t prevent the coronavirus from spreading; that lockdowns are ineffective; that hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by President Donald Trump, can treat the virus; that COVID-19, which he said might be part of a Chinese ‘biowar,’ is not more deadly than the flu; and that the virus isn’t dangerous for children to contract… All of those claims have been impeached by scientific evidence,” the paper wrote at the time. 



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