Axios Reporter Fired After Criticizing Florida Education Press Release

Axios reporter Ben Montgomery was fired this week after he responded to a press release from the Florida Department of Education about an event featuring Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).[0] “This is propaganda, not a press release,” Montgomery wrote in an email response Monday, according to a screen shot of the exchange that Education Florida Communications Director Alex Lanfranconi shared.[1] DeSantis’ deputy press secretary Jeremy Redfern replied to the screenshot: “Is this a journalism?”[2]

Jamie Stockwell, executive editor of Axios Local, informed Montgomery on Monday evening that he had been fired due to the fact that his “reputation in the Tampa Bay area” had been “irreparably tarnished”.[3] This week, DeSantis hosted a roundtable to examine the influence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory (CRT) on Florida’s higher education institutions and their students. The press release provided an update on the discussion.[1]

The incident has sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle. Christina Pushaw, a DeSantis election campaigner, suggested that Montgomery should have thought about being a journalist instead of an activist or propagandist.[4] Nikki Fried, chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, seemed to unintentionally confirm Gov. Ron DeSantis’ opinion (R-Fla).[5]On Friday, someone attempted to criticize him in a tweet.[6] Ron shared images of butt plugs in an attempt to “own the libs,” according to Fried’s[6] Fried’s tweet was met with a swift response from Twitter users, confirming DeSantis’ efforts to remove them from schools.[5]

Montgomery co-wrote the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter and was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of maltreatment at a Florida school for boys during his time at the Tampa Bay Times.[7] He has since taken to Twitter to share his personal news, tweeting that he made crepes this morning for the first time in years, topping them with strawberry compote and whipped cream.[1] He followed up with a retweet from Vanity Fair reporter Charlotte Klein, who shared the news of his firing.[8]

The Hill contacted the department and DeSantis’s communications office to obtain additional information.[9] For now, Montgomery is enjoying his newfound downtime and is hoping to be able to move on from the situation.[10]

0. “Axios fires Ben Montgomery after he called DeSantis release ‘propaganda'” The Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2023,

1. “Axios fires Florida reporter over “propaganda” email” The Desk, 16 Mar. 2023,

2. “Axios Fires Reporter After He Called Ron DeSantis Press Release ‘Propaganda'” OutKick , 15 Mar. 2023,

3. “Axios fires Tampa journalist over DeSantis comment” St Pete Catalyst, 16 Mar. 2023,

4. “First Rule of Journalism: Never Admit You’re an Obnoxious Lib (Even Though You Are)” Washington Free Beacon, 16 Mar. 2023,

5. “Nikki Fried flamed for DeSantis ‘butt plug porn’ tweet: ‘Greatest self-owns in history'” Fox News, 13 Mar. 2023,

6. “Nikki Fried flamed for DeSantis ‘butt plug porn’ tweet: ‘Greatest self-owns in history'” New York Post , 16 Mar. 2023,

7. “Axios fires reporter after email calling DeSantis press release ‘propaganda’” Yahoo News, 16 Mar. 2023,

8. “Axios Tampa Bay fires reporter Ben Montgomery over response to DeSantis DEI email” Creative Loafing Tampa, 15 Mar. 2023,

9. “Axios fires reporter after email calling DeSantis press release ‘propaganda’” The Hill, 16 Mar. 2023,

10. “Reporter Fired For Calling DeSantis Email ‘Propaganda'” TheWrap, 15 Mar. 2023,

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