MATTHEWS: A prominent Ron DeSantis critic was exposed, because people dared to ask questions

Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session, Friday, April 30, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Thirteen months ago, I wrote a column on how it should be okay to ask questions about when we begin to get back to normal. At the time, there was a growing tendency among some to treat those simply questioning the coronavirus data as though they were conspiracy theorists or people who otherwise didn’t care if they or someone else got sick.

Since that time, unfortunately, not much has changed. People who question government policy still get the third degree for daring to question “the science.” Social media platforms, like Facebook, see to it that a conservative site’s reach gets diminished as a form of punishment for taking issue with statements made by President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts.

Via extension, critics of the red-state governors who managed the pandemic much differently than media darlings in blue states are given the red-carpet treatment, with few questions asked of them from the media, beyond, “What made you decide to speak truth to power?” People who question them are also subjected to mockery and ridicule for refusing to go along with the prevailing narrative.

But this is still a free society, last I checked. And fortunately, there are still plenty of people who remain unbowed by the New Rules that, while unwritten, are understood to mean that you are to sit back, trust and obey until you’re told something different by “the experts.”

One such person is conservative writer Charles C.W. Cooke, who did a little something that is rapidly becoming a lost art in media circles these days: investigative journalism.

Cooke’s target was Rebekah Jones, a Florida data technician who was fired a year ago from the state’s health department for what state records reportedly show was a pattern of making unauthorized public remarks about the Florida coronavirus dashboard she helped manage. It wasn’t long after that Jones went on a media tour, claiming she had been ousted because she refused to manipulate data on the state’s coronavirus dashboard that would have made Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, look even better.

Because the media despised DeSantis for managing the crisis much differently than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, Jones was treated with reverence, including by CNN host Chris Cuomo, who as you might have guessed has a very personal connection to Gov. Cuomo (they’re brothers).

She became the go-to DeSantis critic anytime the media wanted to dunk on DeSantis. Jones became so revered for “taking on the DeSantis Gestapo” that in January 2021 she received Forbes Technology’s first-ever “tech person of the year” distinction. She was also a featured speaker at a March journalism conference on “when doing the right thing gets you fired.”

As she basked in the media glow, there were plenty who questioned her story along the way. But they were declared “sexists” and lumped in with supposed conspiracy theorists who didn’t trust the experts.

But Cooke proceeded to dig into her claims anyway in recent weeks. As it turns out, the so-called “data scientist” who was brought on to try to dent DeSantis’ credibility has some serious credibility issues herself. One big one is that she is not actually a data scientist. Another is that she was in fact not fired for refusing to massage coronavirus data.

The laundry list of her deceptions is too long to document here, but if you Google “Rebekah Jones Charles Cooke” you’ll find out all the details. The short of it is that Jones has a history of viciously and dishonestly retaliating when she’s been rejected, whether it be from a job — or by a man.

Jones’ sordid story is yet another reminder of why it’s important to question the experts. Because things are not always as they seem.

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.