Rebekah Jones during an interview with CBSN in 2020 (Screengrab via YouTube) Unfortunately, other publications keep falling for them.
One of the most persistent falsehoods of the COVID pandemic has been the claim that Florida has been “hiding” data. This idea has been advanced primarily by Rebekah Jones, a former Florida Department of Health employee, who, having at first expressed only some modest political disagreements with the way in which Florida responded to COVID, has over time become a fountain of misinformation.
Jones’s claims about Florida’s data have been wildly inconsistent, repeatedly self-contradictory, and, at times, nothing short of technically impossible. Indeed, at this late stage in the proceedings, it is easier to point to the allegations that have not been assiduously debunked than at the ones that have. But there is one claim that, while utterly meritless, has remained persistent: that Rebekah Jones was asked to “hide” data on her dashboard, and, in turn, that this request demonstrates that her claims of conspiracy are correct. This piece will debunk that falsehood from start to finish.
Last week, the Miami Herald published an embarrassingly self-serving piece that sought to resuscitate Jones’s reputation. At the heart of this piece was a reference to a public-records requests confirming that (a) while working at the Department of Health in 2020, Rebekah Jones was asked to remove a single line of data from public view, and (b) that she responded to this instruction by saying, “This is the wrong call.” On the basis of these assertions, the Herald made an accompanying claim that got a lot of attention: that Florida’s state epidemiologists were guilty of “taking data down.”
This is false. Florida’s epidemiologists were guilty of no such thing, and, while quoted accurately, the records request simply does not show what Rebekah Jones pretends that it does. Here, as elsewhere, we are dealing with a clever piece of misdirection that is designed to confuse the reader.
To understand what is happening here, one needs to go back to the beginning. Over the past 15 months, Florida has published a
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