I wrote Monday about how the Miami Herald was so desperate to “get something” on Gov. Ron DeSantis after over two years of trying and failing that they were hanging their hopes on thoroughly discredited Florida data technician Rebekah Jones.
Jones rose to national prominence a year ago after proclaiming without evidence she was told to manipulate data displayed on Florida’s COVID dashboard in a manner that would further justify DeSantis’ plans to reopen the state. In media appearances, Jones claimed she was fired for refusing to do so. CNN was instrumental in elevating her profile, with anchor Chris Cuomo amplifying her false claims and abusing his platform in trying to make his brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo look like a magnificent crisis leader in contrast.
And now, just a few days after writing a glowing editorial all but literally congratulating Jones after the state’s Inspector General granted her official whistleblower status, the Herald is back with another attempted hit piece against DeSantis that contains private messages exchanged between Jones (who leaked them to the Herald) and Democrat Jared Moskowitz, who was appointed director of Florida’s emergency management department by DeSantis in December 2018.
Included in the piece were not only some of those messages, which don’t amount to much in the scheme of things but which are used to insinuate that someone DeSantis trusted was, in turn, oddly trusting of a prominent critic who was on his administration’s radar (more on that in just a minute), but also thousands of Florida DOH emails the Herald obtained from Jones which, while voluminous, still do not prove Jones’ central claim against DeSantis, as CBS12 reporter Jay O’Brien – who has tracked Jones’ story closely – pointed out on his Twitter page this morning:
The Herald piece then adds additional evidence to what’s previously been reported — Jones disagreed with decisions on the data threshold to reopen and objected to briefly removing a column of data about the date of COVID symptom onset.
But, that’s not deleting anything.
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) June 4, 2021
Jones has repeatedly claimed she was asked to “delete cases and deaths.” She’s tweeted it out (screenshot below). But, there’s no proof that occurred. And, evidence of that *still* doesn’t appear to be in the massive cache of emails the Herald acquired. pic.twitter.com/pwTI6wBzUR
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) June 4, 2021
Perhaps the supposed “evidence” isn’t there because there is no “there” there? Remember, Jones accidentally undercut her own case against DeSantis when she admitted two weeks ago that she was never asked to delete COVID death data:
We have caught Rebekah Jones in the most direct lie that she has ever told.
12/24/2020 "The woman who told me to delete cases and deaths is now blaming DOCTORS for the death backlog."
5/20/2021 "Deleting deaths was never something I was asked to do. I've never claimed it was." pic.twitter.com/JCQ4ym5758
— Max (@MaxNordau) May 21, 2021
On top of Jones being totally exposed as a fraud last month and her accidental admission about the death data is the fact that according to a detailed report filed by CBS12’s O’Brien last week, statements made by Jones’ were “widely disputed amongst DOH employees.” Her former colleagues that the news outlet spoke to also confirmed that “Jones did not have access to the state data system or have the privileges to alter raw COVID data,” which further undercuts her allegations against the department and DeSantis.
Another DOH employee, who CBS12 characterized as “high ranking,” said in so many words that meticulous records are kept at the county level, and that any potential manipulations of the data at the state level would have been easy to spot by local health officials. Further, “two DOH sources” verified “that counties review the state’s COVID data each morning for any inconsistencies.” Epidemiologists and a CDC statistician who were interviewed said they “see no significant issues” with Florida’s COVID dashboard, though one conceded that “the data in Florida are not perfect. I can guarantee that.”
As to the correspondence between Moskowitz and Jones, Moskowitz told Politico in a piece that went live this morning about 15 minutes after the Herald’s dropped that his communications with her were the equivalent of “keeping a fish on a hook.” And according to Politico, it worked as far as his department was concerned. It was the “keep your friends close and enemies closer” approach, as he further explained:
“With a platform of 400,000 Twitter followers, her reputation for bullying people on social media and her running a disinformation campaign that the national media echoed, she was more dangerous as an enemy than a friend,” Moskowitz said. “Everything she did was disinformation.”
Moskowitz decided to speak out publicly after Jones leaked their Twitter exchanges to The Miami Herald. Jones also shared images of encrypted Signal messages between her and Moskowitz that would have disappeared, but she took screen-captured pictures of the private exchanges and also gave them to the paper. Moskowitz said he doesn’t have copies of those. It’s unclear why Jones shared her messages.
Oh, I think it’s pretty clear why she shared them with the Herald, although the messages – as I indicated earlier – really aren’t indicative of anything other than what Moskowitz stated they were. Not surprisingly, Jones’ response was to falsely claim Moskowitz backed up everything she said:
Seems like fired geographer Rebekah Jones’ response to Jared Moskowitz destroying her is just to pretend he said things he didn’t say.
Same as it ever was. pic.twitter.com/0QTwTO8eKy
— Max (@MaxNordau) June 4, 2021
Same sh*t, different day with Jones – and, unfortunately, the Herald. It’d be nice not to have to keep reminding people of what an utter charlatan she has shown herself to be, but supposedly “respectable” news outlets like the Herald continue lending her false claims credence with every piece they write that treats her as a credible source.
As I’ve said before, it says a lot – and none of it good – that the Herald is relying once again on a fraud like Rebekah Jones to do their bidding in trying to take down DeSantis. But people hungry to take down a perceived enemy sometimes do desperate things that inadvertently end up undermining their entire case, which can be said not just about Jones, but in this case the Herald, too.