What a surprise: Rebekah Jones, once hailed as a “whistleblower” for claiming Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis had fudged the state’s COVID-19 numbers, has been revealed as a complete fraud.
A report released last week by the Florida Department of Health Office of Inspector General exonerated DeSantis on the allegations and found nothing to back up Jones’ allegations that she’d been pressured to alter COVID-19 case and death counts. In fact, the people the inspector general’s office talked to couldn’t even make sense out of the allegations, considering Jones didn’t have access to the raw coronavirus data.
(In spite of this, the mainstream media is hardly handling the report with the same breathlessness they handled the accusations against DeSantis — and for obvious reasons.
According to an editorial published Friday by The Wall Street Journal, (!) the inspector general found no evidence to support Jones’ claims.
“Based upon an analysis of the available evidence, there is insufficient evidence to clearly support a violation of a law, rule, or policy, as described by the complainant,” the report stated.
The governor’s office argued that Jones was fired from her job for “insubordination” and “unilateral decisions to modify the Department’s COVID-19 dashboard without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.”
Jones’ original allegations were that she had been ordered to tidy up COVID numbers to support the state’s reopening in the spring of 2020. In addition, she claimed the governor had retaliated against her by having the Florida Department of Law Enforcement execute a search warrant against her in December 2020, arguing DeSantis had “sent the Gestapo” to keep her quiet.
Police say the raid involved a data breach that was traced back to Jones’ home IP address. She’s been hit with a felony charge for downloading confidential health department data. She has pleaded innocent.
According to the Journal, the inspector general’s office talked to over a dozen individuals who worked with Jones as part of its investigation, including her superiors — and not a single one supported her allegations of fudged data.
While she told some of her co-workers that she was told to alter COVID data in the system, the report said they didn’t buy her allegations. That wasn’t just because of her inherent unreliability but because of the fact she didn’t have access to the pertinent data. Instead, she was in charge of handling the state’s online dashboard, not the raw data.
“If the complainant or other DOH staff were to have falsified COVID-19 data on the dashboard, the dashboard would then not have matched the data in the corresponding final daily report,” the report said.
“Such a discrepancy would have been detectable by [Bureau of Epidemiology] staff conducting data quality assurance, as well as other parties, both within and outside the DOH, including but not limited to [county health departments], local governments, researchers, the press/media, and the general public.”
Instead, the report stated the inspector general’s office “found no evidence that the DOH misrepresented or otherwise misled the public regarding how positivity rates were calculated,” according to the report.
“The definitions for overall and new case positivity were provided on the Data Definition sheet and Health Metrics Overview, which were both linked to the dashboard, and were consistent with testimonial evidence obtained by the OIG.”
The report appeared last week to nary a peep in the same media outlets that loved her back in the febrile days of the early pandemic.
As The Daily Caller noted, Jones was a frequent guest on Joy Reid’s MSNBC’s show and made at least five appearances on former CNN host Chris Cuomo’s old show. (No lack of sad irony there; Cuomo’s brother Andrew, the erstwhile governor of New York, was forced out of office over sexual harassment allegations, but also faced accusations of covering up COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes.)
The headlines in liberal media outlets were similarly effusive — calling Jones a “scientist” to buttress her standing, like Jones was filling test tubes with potential coronavirus vaccines when she wasn’t trying to expose fraud in the Florida government. But even CNN has been honest enough to qualify that as “data scientist.”
NPR, May 19, 2020: “Florida Dismisses A Scientist For Her Refusal To Manipulate State’s Coronavirus Data.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 10, 2020: “FDLE raid dramatizes Florida’s COVID-19 coverup.” HuffPo, Dec. 17, 2020: “Florida Scientist Vows To Speak COVID-19 ‘Truth To Power’ Despite Police Raid.” Cosmopolitan, March 11, 2021: “Rebekah Jones Tried To Warn Us About COVID-19. How Her Freedom Is On The Line.”
No evidence for any of it. None. Goose egg. Zero-point-zero.
Rebekah Jones was a darling of the mainstream media if just because her wild-eyed conspiracy theories about covering up COVID data could be wielded as a cudgel against Ron DeSantis and others considered a threat to progressives.