As some Florida beaches reopened under social distancing guidelines, Miami Herald metro columnist Fabiola Santiago tweeted on Sunday that Florida residents packing beaches “should work nicely to thin the ranks” of supporters of President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Santiago tweeted that “packed beaches should work nicely to thin the ranks of Trump/DeSantis/Gimenez supporters in #Florida who value money over health.”
— Fabiola Santiago (@fabiolasantiago) April 19, 2020
Reaction from Trump supporters was swift.
Donald Trump Jr. commented that Santiago’s “disgusting” remarks not only expose her own bias but “based on their hiring choices” likely tells readers “everything you need to know about the Miami Herald as well.”
This tweet from a Miami Herald columnist tells you all you need to know about her, and based on their hiring choices, likely everything you need to know about the Miami Herald as well. Their flagrant bias continues to go on unchecked. Disgusting. https://t.co/FOmn5zxnaK
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 19, 2020
“You’re grotesque. A genuine embarrassment,” tweeted radio show host and conservative commentator Dan Bongino.
You’re grotesque. A genuine embarrassment.
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) April 19, 2020
Some pointed out that Santiago had nothing to say about the decision by three Democratic governors — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont – to reopen marinas and boatyards also under social distancing rules.
Others noted the lack of criticism about Manhattan’s Central Park still being open to the public while visitor centers and playgrounds have been closed until further notice. People magazine recently published photographs showing crowds in Central Park clearly breaking the “six feet apart” guidelines, with many not wearing face masks.
Central Park Still Crowded with People Despite Stay at Home and Social Distancing Orders in NYC https://t.co/dfJSAdmQsf
— People (@people) April 6, 2020
On Friday, DeSantis gave local municipalities the green-light to decide whether to reopen their beaches only if it can be done safely and under strict social distancing guidelines.
Some north Florida beaches reopened while many in central and south Florida remain closed.
Newly reopened Jacksonville Beach only allows “essential activities” which include “recreational activities consistent with social distancing guidelines such as walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing.”
Beach-goers cannot sunbathe or bring towels, blankets or beach chairs. The beaches reportedly don’t allow “lingering on the beach without moving” or gatherings of more than 10 people.
Santiago’s controversial tweet embedded a Miami Herald article sensationally titled, “Packed Florida beach offers glimpse of what may come when outdoor spaces are reopened.”
The Herald story included two images of scores of people walking on the beach, but it was not clear from the pictures whether those photographed were violating the social distancing rules. The closeup images seem to show people keeping distance but those who can be seen were not wearing masks or other face coverings. The story itself does not report that anyone violated social distancing rules.
At Friday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force’s briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, was asked about the beach reopenings in Florida. Reporters did not similarly bring up the marina and boatyard reopenings in harder-hit New Jersey, New York and Connecticut or Manhattan’s continued opening of Central Park to the general public.
“If the county health directors believe that that’s appropriate for their county, then I’m not going to second judge an individual’s approach to this,” Birx said of the Florida beach news.
Update 12:23 AM ET April 20, 2020:
THREAD: I deleted the tweet commenting on people at the beach because it didn’t accurately convey my sentiment and I want to apologize for the phrase I used that offended many people. Regardless of political differences, I would never wish any harm on anyone. 1/2
— Fabiola Santiago (@fabiolasantiago) April 20, 2020
Author: Aaron Klein