Florida Republicans Demand Miami Herald Fire Columnist for ‘Thin the Ranks’ Coronavirus Remark

fabiola-santiago
@fabiolasantiago / Twitter

Florida Republicans are urging the Miami Herald to take action against metro columnist Fabiola Santiago, who tweeted on Sunday that Florida residents packing beaches “should work nicely to thin the ranks” of supporters of President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

On Sunday, Santiago specifically tweeted that “packed beaches should work nicely to thin the ranks of Trump/DeSantis/Gimenez supporters in #Florida who value money over health.”

Hours later, Santiago deleted the tweet and issued an apology, saying her remarks “didn’t accurately convey my sentiment… Regardless of political differences, I would never wish any harm on anyone.”

Her apology came after strong condemnation from prominent Trump supporters and coverage of her remarks by independent news media outlets, including an article at Breitbart News and coverage on Fox News.

Responding directly to condemnation from the Republican Party of Florida, Mindy Marques, publisher and executive editor of the Miami Herald, issued an apology on Twitter and said the newspaper would “follow up internally.”

Marques’ response was not enough for the Florida GOP, which retorted that while the party appreciates the condemnation the newspaper should go so far as to “#FireFabiola,” using Santiago’s first name.

Rep. Michael Waltz used the hashtag #FireFabiola while saying it was “downright disgusting” for the Miami Herald to give Santiago a platform.

State Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez also demanded Santiago’s ouster from the newspaper.

Todd Chase, a Republican candidate for Congress, further promoted the #FireFabiola hashtag.

Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva said Santiago’s comments represent a “stain” upon the newspaper “and the actual professionals who work there.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a frequent guest on Fox News, called the columnist’s tweet a “vile example of media hatred.”

State Representative James Grant slammed Santiago’s tweet:

Donald Trump Jr. commented that Santiago’s “disgusting” remarks not only expose her own bias but “based on their hiring choices” likely tells readers “everything you need to know about the Miami Herald as well.”

Asked for comment, a spokesperson for The Miami Herald referred Breitbart News to Marques’ Twitter apology and statement that the newspaper would “follow up internally.”

Some of Santiago’s critics pointed out that the columnist had nothing to say about the decision by three Democratic governors — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont – to reopen marinas and boatyards also under social distancing rules.

Others noted the lack of criticism about Manhattan’s Central Park still being open to the public while visitor centers and playgrounds have been closed until further notice. People magazine recently published photographs showing crowds in Central Park clearly breaking the “six feet apart” guidelines, with many not wearing face masks.

On Friday, DeSantis gave local municipalities the green-light to decide whether to reopen their beaches only if it can be done safely and under strict social distancing guidelines.

Some north Florida beaches reopened while many in central and south Florida remain closed.

Newly reopened Jacksonville Beach only allows “essential activities” which include “recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing.”

Beach-goers cannot sunbathe or bring towels, blankets or beach chairs. The beaches reportedly don’t allow “lingering on the beach without moving” or gatherings of more than 10 people.

Santiago’s controversial tweet embedded a Miami Herald article sensationally titled, “Packed Florida beach offers glimpse of what may come when outdoor spaces are reopened.”

The Herald story included two images of scores of people walking on the beach, but it was not clear from the pictures whether those photographed were violating the social distancing rules. The closeup images seem to show people keeping distance but those who can be seen were not wearing masks or other face coverings. The story itself does not report that anyone violated social distancing rules.

At Friday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force’s briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, was asked about the beach reopenings in Florida. Reporters did not similarly bring up the marina and boatyard reopenings in harder-hit New Jersey, New York and Connecticut or Manhattan’s continued opening of Central Park to the general public.

“If the county health directors believe that that’s appropriate for their county, then I’m not going to second judge an individual’s approach to this,” Birx said of the Florida beach news.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow.

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