On Thursday, the paper raised eyebrows with its jarring headline, “Florida COVID update: 901 added deaths, largest single-day increase in pandemic history.”
The headline was widely shared among DeSantis’ critics, including an army of MSNBC stars and staffers.
“My god,” primetime host Chris Hayes reacted.
“Pardon me, but holy s—,” MSNBC producer Adam Weinstein similarly tweeted.
Liberal MSNBC contributor Fernand Amandi hyped the “BREAKING” news, tweeting “We have had more deaths in Florida from COVID-19 in the first 26 days of August than the US has had among uniformed military service members in Afghanistan since October 2001.”
Among others who circulated the Herald report include CNN contributor Frida Ghitis, Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch, and Rick Wilson of the disgraced Lincoln Project.
“I am sure a stern letter from @GovRonDeSantis to the @AP will make this all better,” Schorsch swiped the governor.
“It’s going GREAT for Governor Freedumb,” Wilson quipped.
However, while the headline indicates that the 901 COVID deaths mark the state’s “largest single-day increase” in CDC data, the reality is that those 901 deaths did not occur in a single day.
“Florida on Thursday reported 21,765 more COVID-19 cases and 901 deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data,” the report began. “All but two of the newly reported deaths occurred after July 25, with about 78% of those people dying in the past two weeks, according to Herald calculations of data published by the CDC. The majority of deaths happened during Florida’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the delta variant.”
Devoun Cetoute, the Miami Herald reporter who wrote the story, responded to critics who slammed the headline.
“Reading the story and our transparency note would explain so much,” Cetoute tweeted. “CDC reports 901 more deaths to FL death total = single day increase Death data is now by when people died not when FL reports it. All explained in story.”
DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw slammed the Miami Herald’s framing of the latest CDC data.
“It’s sensationalistic and dishonest to imply that 901 people died in a day when was actually a culmination of several weeks of data being reported at once,” Pushaw told Fox News. “By the same logic the Miami Herald used in its misleading headline, the liberal media could also say ‘New York reported 12,000 deaths in a single day,’ but of course they will not.”
Pushaw was referring to New York’s updated COVID death count earlier this week following the resignation of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This is yet another example of why most Americans do not trust the mainstream media, and many Floridians feel that Miami Herald crosses the line from a newspaper to a Democratic PR firm in most of their reporting on Governor DeSantis,” Pushaw added.
When asked if the paper stood by its headline, Miami Herald executive editor Monica Richardson told Fox News, “Our story was accurate.” Cetoute did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Pushaw has been on a warpath in recent weeks against outlets like The Orlando Sentinel and The Associated Press over their “misleading” coverage of DeSantis’ support for the Regeneron COVID antibody treatment.
Earlier this year, DeSantis blasted “corporate media operatives” at CBS News’ “60 Minutes” over its widely criticized report on Florida’s coronavirus vaccine rollout and called on the show to “admit that it was false.”
DeSantis said CBS News producers talked to people who knew the story was wrong but “refused” to put them on the air. The report suggested DeSantis gave the Publix grocery store chain preferable treatment to offer the coronavirus vaccine based on its PAC’s donations to his PAC, but a bipartisan chorus in Florida rejected that framing.
Several news outlets, including The Miami Herald and CNN, have also elevated Rebekah Jones, the fired Florida health official who alleged that the DeSantis administration urged her to alter the state’s COVID data to push for reopenings last year. Critics have thoroughly refuted her claims, describing them as a “fake” conspiracy.