Axios fires Ben Montgomery after he known as DeSantis launch ‘propaganda’


An Axios reporter in Tampa mentioned he was fired this week after he responded to a Florida Division of Schooling electronic mail about an occasion that includes Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), calling the information launch “propaganda.”

Ben Montgomery mentioned he acquired a name on Monday night from Jamie Stockwell, govt editor of Axios Native, who requested Montgomery to verify he despatched the e-mail earlier than saying the reporter’s “repute within the Tampa Bay space” had been “irreparably tarnished.”

The information release despatched Monday afternoon mentioned DeSantis, a possible 2024 GOP presidential candidate, had hosted a roundtable “exposing the variety fairness and inclusion rip-off in increased training.” It additionally known as for prohibiting state funds from getting used to assist DEI efforts.

“We are going to expose the scams they’re making an attempt to push onto college students throughout the nation,” DeSantis mentioned within the assertion.

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Montgomery, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, replied to the e-mail three minutes after getting it. “That is propaganda, not a press launch,” he wrote to the Division of Schooling press workplace.

About an hour after that, the Schooling Division’s communication officer, Alex Lanfranconi, shared Montgomery’s reply on Twitter, the place it has since been viewed greater than 1 million occasions.

Montgomery mentioned the information launch had “no substance,” including that he “learn the entire thing and it was only a sequence of quotes about how unhealthy DEI was.”

Axios editor in chief Sara Kehaulani Goo confirmed Montgomery is now not employed by Axios, however declined to remark additional.

The state legislature’s GOP majority has additionally proposed a raft of legal guidelines that might reshape Ok-12 and better training within the state and ban gender research, restrict transgender pronouns and erode tenure.

This isn’t the primary time that the communications crew of DeSantis, who has campaigned on a battle on “woke,” or his administration has printed exchanges with reporters or criticized the information media.

Final April, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw declined an interview request with The Washington Submit and prompt to her Twitter followers that The Submit was making an attempt to blackmail her by writing a profile about her. She in the end supplied restricted cooperation with the reporter.

Lanfranconi has posted images of emails and articles from reporters in current weeks, questioning their work, and wrote that the New Yorker was becoming a member of “the checklist of these endorsing porn in elementary faculties” over the journal’s cowl artwork.

The Florida Division of Schooling spokesperson and the governor’s communications workplace didn’t reply to requests for feedback.

Montgomery, who has labored as a journalist within the Tampa Bay space since 2005, mentioned he has seen related incidents occur to reporters in Florida.

“It’s extremely necessary that their organizations arise on their behalf and notice that that is nothing however a political tactic to realize right-wing votes and disrupt the lives of hard-working journalists,” he mentioned.

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Named a Pulitzer finalist for his reporting that uncovered abuse at a Florida reform college for boys, Montgomery was employed by Axios in late 2020 and despatched his first publication in January 2021 as a part of the outlet’s rising presence in native journalism. He mentioned the workers was typically assured in his early days on the firm that “we’re not going to let the trolls run the newsroom,” and that he was subsequently “unafraid” to ship the e-mail to the press workplace.

Axios allowed reporters in 2020 to affix racial justice demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd, however restricted its journalists from protesting for or towards abortion rights two years later.

The response within the newsroom has been a mixture of unhappiness for shedding a colleague and concern that one thing related might occur to them, in accordance with an individual aware of inner conferences who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate inner exchanges.

Montgomery mentioned his former co-workers have expressed “outrage” to him about what occurred.

“It would appear to be just a little factor for a man in Tampa, Fla., to be out of a job for a minute,” Montgomery mentioned. “However this has ripple results for an administration that’s actually had their manner with the press and run roughshod over lots of people — good folks.”

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