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Axios wrongly reports DeSantis said Trump ‘did a lot of damage,’ but attack was really about Fauci

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Axios was forced to issue an editor’s note on Wednesday after falsely reporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said former-President Trump “did a lot of damage,” when he was actually talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

The article began by noting that DeSantis “took direct shots at the competence and character” of Trump. The first example offered was a quote from a Fox Nation interview the Florida governor recently conducted with Piers Morgan. “I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage,” DeSantis said. 

Axios used a bold font for the words “I think he got,” and the quote’s placement directly beneath the line about DeSantis taking shots at Trump gave readers a false impression of whom the governor was referring to. The quote also led the outlet’s daily morning “Axios AM” newsletter.

The Axios AM newsletter on March 22, 2023, wrongly suggested a Ron DeSantis quote attacking Anthony Fauci was about Donald Trump.

The Axios AM newsletter on March 22, 2023, wrongly suggested a Ron DeSantis quote attacking Anthony Fauci was about Donald Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Trump could soon be official rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Trump could soon be official rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

DESANTIS HIGHLIGHTS DIFFERENCES WITH TRUMP: ‘I WOULD HAVE FIRED’ FAUCI

The quote was actually about Fauci, whom DeSantis has sharply criticized. DeSantis was talking about how he would have handled the COVID pandemic differently than Trump. 

“I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage,” DeSantis told Morgan.

Axios eventually removed the quote from the story altogether and issued an editor’s note. 

“This item has been updated to drop a Fauci-related quote,” Axios editors wrote without further explanation. 

Axios did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a sharp critic of Anthony Fauci.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a sharp critic of Anthony Fauci. (Joe Raedle/Saul Loeb)

AXIOS FIRES REPORTER WHO CALLED DESANTIS PRESS RELEASE ‘PROPAGANDA’

DeSantis office did not immediately respond. 

Last week, Axios fired reporter Ben Montgomery after he referred to a press release sent by DeSantis’ administration as “propaganda.”

DeSantis recently called out Fauci, the former chief medical advisor to Trump, for his involvement in the pandemic, demanding he be “held accountable” particularly with regard to school lockdowns and mask mandates.

During the Fox Nation interview, DeSantis also said if he runs for president in 2024, he will be running against President Biden, not Trump. DeSantis’ political star rose after he won a landslide re-election in November, a triumph for him amid a disappointing night nationally for the Republican Party.

“If I were to run, I’m running against Biden,” DeSantis told Morgan in the latest indication he will be entering the 2024 race.

AXIOS REPORTER BLASTED FOR CALLING DESANTIS DEI ROUNDTABLE PRESS RELEASE ‘PROPAGANDA’

“We are competing for the Republican [nomination], potentially, I get that, but ultimately you know the guy I’m going to focus on is Biden because I think he’s failed the country,” DeSantis said. “I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction, and so we’ll be very vocal about that.”

When asked if he thought he could beat Biden, DeSantis said, “I think so.”

Trump has called out DeSantis, potentially his greatest 2024 competition, on several occasions, most recently after the governor said he wanted nothing to do with the former president’s hush money allegation scandal.

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Fox News’ Aubrie Spady contributed to this report. 

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