Ben Montgomery Fired After Calling Florida Education Department’s Press Release “Propaganda

Ben Montgomery, a Tampa-based reporter for Axios, was fired this week after he responded to an email from the Florida Department of Education calling their press release “propaganda.”[0] The press release was about a roundtable event held by Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss “divisive concepts such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the impact that these concepts have had on Florida higher education institutions and the students that attend them.”[1]

Montgomery’s response to the Education Department’s press release sparked a conversation on Twitter, with Florida Democrats chairwoman Nikki Fried tweeting “Ron posting butt plug porn to own the libs” in an attempt to criticize DeSantis.[2] Twitter users quickly responded, with journalist Ian Miles Cheong asking “Why is this?” and Substack writer Jim Treacher asking “If you want that taught in schools, what’s wrong with posting it online?”[2] National Review contributor Pradheep Shankar declared it “one of the greatest self owns in Twitter history” and Mediaite writer Caleb Howe called it “self owns as art.”

Fried later clarified her tweet with “added context” blaming DeSantis for allowing the content to be in schools. Montgomery had been the co-author of the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a previous role he held at the Tampa Bay Times.[3] He was also the author of the book “A Shot in the Moonlight” about how a freed slave and a confederate soldier fought for justice in the Jim Crow South.[4]

The Hill has contacted the department and Governor DeSantis’s communications office for more details.[3] Meanwhile, Montgomery has been enjoying his newfound downtime by making crepes for the first time in years. “Strawberry compote and whipped cream; they were delicious,” he wrote in a tweet.[5]

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

1. “Reporter Out At Axios After Pushing Back On Ron DeSantis Administration” HuffPost, 15 Mar. 2023,

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

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

4. “Axios reporter Ben Montgomery fired after calling Gov. DeSantis press release ‘propaganda'” Florida Politics, 13 Mar. 2023,

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

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