An Axios reporter was canned this week after he called a government news release that featured Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “propaganda.”
Journalist Ben Montgomery was fired from the news outlet after a staffer in the state Department of Education tweeted out a screenshot of him telling the department’s press office over email, “This is propaganda, not a press release” in reply to a release that highlighted the GOP governor hosting a roundtable on “Exposing the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Scam in Higher Education.”
Axios editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani confirmed to Fox News that Montgomery was “no longer with Axios” but did not disclose why.
“Out of respect for our employees, we do not discuss conditions of departure,” she said.
Montgomery told the Washington Post he received a call from Jamie Stockwell, the executive editor of Axios Local, on Monday evening with his boss asking if he sent the email.
He then told the reporter his “reputation in the Tampa Bay area” had been “irreparably tarnished,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery, based in Tampa, poked fun at the situation while not denying it when Vanity Fair reporter Charlotte Klein tweeted Tuesday he was fired over the email.
“Some personal news: I made crepes this morning for the first time in years,” he tweeted in reply to Klein’s newsy tweet. “Strawberry compote and whipped cream. They were delicious.”
Montgomery told Fox News the press release pushed out by DeSantis’ office “wasted my time” and insisted his reply was not due to partisan politics, but because the release lacked context.
He additionally told the outlet he doesn’t regret sending the email because his teenage daughters told him they were proud of him.
“That’s really all that matters,” he said.
This afternoon, Tampa based @axios journalist @gangrey decided to respond to our press release with the below. pic.twitter.com/XkL5nBwZSs
— Alex Lanfranconi (@AlexLanfran) March 13, 2023
He did concede though he wished he better explained his problem with the press release.
“I regret being so short,” he reportedly said. “In the style of Axios, I used smart brevity and it cost me.”
Some personal news: I made crepes this morning for the first time in years. Strawberry compote and whipped cream. They were delicious. https://t.co/1rG4idEZsr
— Ben Montgomery (@gangrey) March 15, 2023
Axios sells itself as a publication as “Smart Brevity worthy of people’s time, attention and trust.”
Part of Axios’ editorial ethics policy mandates all staffers must “maintain professionalism with all sources” and “respect and be civil to all people we have contact with,” according to Fox News.
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