Gannett says political cartoon of DeSantis press secretary ‘being reviewed’ after critics accuse it of sexism

on Aug25
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A spokeswoman for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling out the Gannett media company after a cartoonist from one of its papers created what critics have said was a “sexist” political cartoon of her. 

Andy Marlette, the editorial cartoonist for the Pensacola News Journal, raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he shared his latest work that lampooned DeSantis Press Secretary Christian Pushaw, calling her a “taxpayer-funded Twitter troll.”

Pushaw was unflatteringly depicted on a magazine cover of “Florida COVID Cover-up girl” holding a bag of money over her shoulders. The satirical magazine included feature teases like “3 cosmetic enhancements to conceal inner ugliness” and “how bitterness and cynicism can hide your boss’ inadequacies.”


The cartoon comes on the heels of Pushaw’s public dust-up with the Associated Press over a story about DeSantis last week. She publicly ripped the story’s reporter for its apparent premise that DeSantis was promoting an effective COVID treatment for political reasons, leading to the AP and DeSantis exchanging angry letters. 

Pushaw and a chorus of critics bashed the cartoon with accusations of misogyny, though the DeSantis aide stressed that she did not want the cartoon pulled, tweeting, “I don’t want to censor @AndyMarlette’s disgusting, sexist cartoon. In fact, @pnj & editor @lnelless should keep it online—so everyone can see that they’re okay with misogynistic bullying as long as it’s directed at conservative women. Says more about them than it does about me.”

“The flak is always heaviest when you’re over the target, and I am over the target at this point,” Pushaw told Fox News about the cartoon. “They cannot prove me wrong because I always come with facts so they have to stoop to attacking my physical appearance.”


A spokesperson for Gannett told Fox News, “Editorial cartoons are intended to spark debate and discussion about public figures and matters via pointed, satirical commentary. We take seriously our policy not to publish material that is sexist, racist or discriminatory and we constantly evaluate our editing process to ensure our standards are met. This cartoon has not published in any of our newspapers or on our websites and is being reviewed.”

In a statement to Fox News, Pushaw questioned Marlette’s employment amid Gannett’s commitment to “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“The fact that Andy Marlette is employed by a Gannett company while Dr. Seuss has been canceled is a vivid illustration of the Left’s double standard,” Pushaw told Fox News. “Will Gannett make an exception to its anti-bigotry stance for Andy Marlette because he hates Governor DeSantis?”

“Consequence culture. They wanted it,” Pushaw added. 

Pushaw has been an outspoken defender of DeSantis from his media critics, most recently the AP after it ran a report suggesting the Florida governor promoted Regeneron’s COVID antibody treatment because a Chicago-based hedge fund that donated to a pro-DeSantis political committee also owned shares of the company. However, the AP also acknowledged the treatment’s effectiveness and the comparatively small share the DeSantis supporter’s company had in Regeneron.

In an open letter to the news organization, DeSantis called the report a “smear” job.

“I assumed your letter was to notify me that you were issuing a retraction of the partisan smear piece you published last week,” DeSantis wrote. “Instead, you had the temerity to complain about the deserved blowback that your botched and discredited attempt to concoct a political narrative has received.”


The outlet then accused Pushaw of “harassing” one of their reporters and trying to “activate an online mob” in her attempts to defend the governor.

“We call on you to eliminate this attack strategy from your press office and assure the people of Florida that there is no place for it in their state government,” AP CEO Daisy Veerasingham wrote in a letter to DeSantis.

“They brought this on themselves by publishing this kind of dangerous misinformation,” Pushaw told Fox News in response.

Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien and David Rutz contributed to this report. 

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