RiverRaider

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Posts posted by RiverRaider


  1. Is she still a Frequent guest on CNN or have they moved on? 

     

     

    A Grad Student Tried to Correct a Misleading COVID Narrative. Rebekah Jones Tried to Ruin His Career for It

    By JACK CROWE

    June 18, 2021 6:30 AM

     

    Jon Taylor’s desire to help Floridians understand a pandemic that was remaking their lives nearly cost him his career.

     

    Taylor, a 37-year-old Ph.D. candidate at the Florida Atlantic University College of Business, waded into the world of COVID data analysis last spring after being informed that he had been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. When he looked at the data for himself, what he found disturbed him: The way the Florida Department of Health was presenting the pandemic death toll was confusing members of the media who lacked a background in data analysis.

     

     

     

    News outlets, local and national, were conflating the actual number of Floridians who had died of COVID on a given day with the number of COVID deaths that had been entered into the system on that day — a total that included deaths that had occurred days and sometimes weeks before the entry date.

     

    The misunderstanding was a dream come true for news editors eager for attention-grabbing headlines detailing Florida’s “record-setting” daily COVID deaths.

    Taylor, an affable and apolitical mathematician, thought he could clear things up by presenting the data in a more transparent way, so he and his academic adviser created their own

    COVID tracker, which relied on the state’s data but presented it on a timeline that accurately captured the number of deaths in the state each day.

     

    Unbeknownst to Taylor, who studiously avoids political media, he had just stepped on a hornet’s nest.

     

    By creating a tracker that showed the situation in Florida to be somewhat less dire than enemies of Governor DeSantis preferred to believe, he had left the staid world of academia and entered the world of politics, where facts are subordinated to the question of whom those facts might help and whom they might hurt.

    And in Florida, the foremost enforcer of the dire COVID narrative was a woman named Rebekah Jones, the former COVID dashboard manager for the state health department.

    “In the process of building the tracker, of course I found Rebekah Jones. You can’t do Florida COVID work without running into her,” Taylor told National Review.

     

    Jones had been fired by the state in May for insubordination but managed to parlay her firing into national celebrity by falsely claiming that it was in retribution for her refusal to cover up the state’s COVID numbers — something that she couldn’t have done because she didn’t have access to the raw data, as National Review’s Charles Cooke reported. She used the resulting notoriety to launch her own COVID dashboard, which also relied on the state’s data, but presented it in a way that suggested cases and deaths were higher than what the state had reported.

     

    Taylor was curious about Jones’s methodology, so he emailed her in late July, roughly a month after his tracker went live.

     

    Taylor struck a friendly and inquisitive tone in the email, which was reviewed by National Review. But he never heard back from Jones, whom he calls “RJ” in the practiced way of someone who refers to a person so frequently that he is forced to resort to initials.

     

    That is until two days later, when Jones began attacking him publicly on Twitter, calling him a “quack” and a “fraud” in response to a blog post he wrote explaining how the state’s presentation of the COVID death data — the use of “event date” rather than the actual date of death — was leading to an overstatement of the severity of the situation.

     

    Taylor was surprised that Jones took to Twitter to trash him after he reached out privately in good faith to hash out the differences in their respective approaches to the data. He argued with Jones on the platform briefly before deciding to drop the issue and move on.

    And then came a lull, until October, when Taylor and his COVID tracker began getting some attention. Taylor was starting to get booked on local news shows and podcasts, and one of his tracker tweets went viral.

     

    Jones jumped into the viral twitter thread, not to argue about Taylor’s methodology, but to accuse him and his academic adviser of sexual harassment, thereby stifling the original tweet, which was putting his tracker on the map.

     

    Not only did Jones smear Taylor and his adviser as sexual harassers to her hundreds of thousands of followers, she also tagged their university, the university president, and university police.

     

    Jones deleted the tweets, but Taylor preserved them as screenshots on the advice of a prominent academic who had previously been subjected to a characteristic Jones smear campaign. Jones makes a habit of deleting past tweets before arguing that she had never sent them in the first place, the academic told Taylor. Reached for comment, Jones also denied defaming Taylor and his adviser.

     

    Not content to publicly tarnish the reputation of Taylor and his academic adviser, Jones took direct action to ruin their careers. Jones followed up her tweet storm by sending a series of emails to the dean of the FAU College of Business reporting Taylor and his adviser for sexual harassment.

     

    The dean of the business school, Daniel Gropper, then escalated the complaint to the vice president of the university and the chief of the FAU police department, who asked Jones to substantiate her claims. Jones never did.

     

    While most of the emails, which were obtained by National Review, include only vague accusations, one of them was extremely explicit. In it, Jones repeated an accusation that she first made on Twitter: that Taylor made “jokes that he would put his penis in my mouth to shut me up.”

     

    Rebekah Jones’s email to FAU College of Business dean Daniel Gropper. (Email Screenshot)

     

    That one “crossed a line,” said Taylor.

     

    “That crossed the line to me. I would never say that to somebody. . . . I know the consequence of saying that to somebody. And it’s not just the consequence,” Taylor said, his voice cracking as he recounted the experience of encountering the allegation on Twitter. “I’m just a good person. I would never do that anyway. I don’t talk like that; it’s ridiculous.’”

    FAU launched a Title IX investigation in response to Jones’s emails, setting off a long and opaque process, which Taylor only learned about through back channels. He was never officially informed that Jones had emailed the school and that he was under an investigation.

     

    Aware of the low evidentiary standard that obtains in Title IX proceedings, the fact of his innocence was of no comfort to Taylor.

    Unable to produce evidence of Taylor or his adviser sending sexually threatening messages on their own accounts, Jones took to claiming that they made the threats through burner accounts or incited their followers to threaten Jones for them — charges that Taylor unequivocally denies.

     

    Taylor was terrified for two months that the student board tasked with determining his fate would rule in Jones’s favor based on her word alone, ending his career in one fatal blow.

    “They don’t have to have proof. There’s no burden of proof; the mere suspicion that it could be true is enough to expel me from the university,” he said. “If I get expelled, I’m never finishing my doctorate. That’s the true cost of what’s going on here. And that’s exactly what she tried to do.”

    In fact, he was so afraid that he chose not to teach a course during the fall semester, knowing that if he were forced to leave the university in the middle of the term, his academic reputation would be further tarnished.

     

    In addition to the avalanche of emails and tweets Jones was directing at FAU administrators, she also directed her loyal followers — which she gained thanks to the endorsements of prominent Florida politicians and appearances on cable news shows — to call the university and complain about Taylor. Her followers listened, bombarding the university president and provost with endless phone calls and emails — all as Jones refused to offer evidence to back up her claims and advance the Title IX process.

     

    And Taylor isn’t the only COVID researcher who’s been harassed by Jones and her followers. One academic told National Review that she was subjected to the same treatment as Taylor after publicly questioning Jones’s claims about Florida’s alleged COVID cover-up. Jones responded by harassing her in private Twitter messages and publicly calling for her firing. As in the case of Taylor, one of Jones’s followers decided to follow through and emailed the office of her university president in an attempt to get her fired.

     

    In another case, Jones offered to collaborate with an academic who was researching COVID. And, when the academic politely declined, Jones responded with a series of threatening private messages on Twitter. Jones then went on to lie about the nature of their interaction, insisting that the academic “begged” to work with her.

     

    Both of the aforementioned academics did not want to be identified out of fear that Jones or her followers would revive their public harassment campaigns if they were to speak on the record. Fear of retribution comes up again and again when speaking to people who have interacted with Jones.

    “Basically everyone I’ve met who knows her has a very unfavorable opinion of her and absolutely hated being around her,” said Peter Wood, who graduated from the Florida State University geography doctoral program in 2016, one year before Jones entered the program.

     

    “I know people who refuse to even be anonymously involved in conversations about her because they’re afraid she’ll harass them,” Wood told National Review. “I’m in a decent position. I’m not afraid of her; I don’t have much to lose.”

     

    Wood met Jones a couple of months after graduating from FSU, when he returned to campus in the fall of 2016 as an alumnus, but he didn’t realize whom he was dealing with until he saw her falsely representing herself as a Florida State geography Ph.D. on Twitter to bolster her own credibility in arguments with critics.

     

    Wood was aware that Jones had been kicked out of the FSU program for having sex with an undergraduate and lying about her criminal record. He also knew Jones was exaggerating her responsibilities at the Florida Department of Health because he knew multiple FSU graduates who had previously held the same position.

    So he called her out — mostly because no one else would.

     

    Wood said he spoke with countless people who were in a position to debunk Jones’s claims — claims that were being parroted throughout the summer and fall by prominent Florida Democrats and media outlets — but wouldn’t speak out both because they feared Jones’s harassment and because they didn’t want to be seen as defending the DeSantis administration.

     

    It was that dynamic, the degree of politicization around questions of fact, that so surprised Taylor.

     

    For Taylor, the experience of watching prominent people disregard data because it didn’t fit their preferred narrative was “shocking.” He stressed that his COVID tracker made no forecasts and he never offered opinions about the performance of the DeSantis administration.

    “We just present the data in a way we think is easier to understand,” Taylor said.

     

    While she was by no means the only person making life hell for anyone who dared question the most dire COVID narrative, the tactics used by Jones and her followers were working; they had helped make the public conversation so toxic that it just wasn’t worth it to engage.

     

    Taylor experienced this firsthand, within his own university: The original draft of his blog post highlighting how the state’s data was being misrepresented included links to 12 breathless media reports warning of the “record” rise in Florida COVID deaths — but a university administrator told him to take the references out so as to stay above the fray. He reluctantly complied.

     

    Far from being ostracized for her role in making frank discussion of an immensely important topic near impossible, Jones has profited immensely. She’s raised more than $600,000 on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe; her conspiracy theories about Florida’s COVID cover-up have been endorsed by Florida congressman Charlie Crist, agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried, and the president of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions; and she’s now teasing a run for Congress herself — although her seriousness about the run appears to fluctuate by the day.

     

    But Jones’s admission that her run to unseat Florida representative Matt Gaetz is “not serious,” has not stopped the media from taking it seriously.

    “The scientist who said she was fired by Gov. Ron DeSantis for refusing to censor Florida’s Covid-19 numbers said Tuesday she’s hoping to unseat another high-profile Republican politician in the state — Rep. Matt Gaetz,” NBC News reported June 8.

     

    NBC, Florida Today, the Miami Herald, and other media outlets continue to take Jones’s claims — claims about her own political ambitions and her heroic past as a whistleblower — quite seriously, despite the fact that she is currently awaiting trial on a felony charge for allegedly stealing the personal data of 19,000 state employees.

    The media’s credulity is paying dividends for Jones. She reactivated her GoFundMe account days after the NBC article was published, but its rationale has changed.

     

    No longer a put-upon whistleblower who needs to pay the bills after martyring herself for the cause of Science, Jones is now a political candidate who needs to fund a campaign — never mind that GoFundMe explicitly forbids candidates to solicit political donations while directing the funds into a personal account, as Jones reportedly is.

     

    As Jones’s star continues to rise, Taylor still worries that FAU’s Title IX board will end his career before it’s even really started — all because he wanted to help people understand a pandemic that was upending their lives.

    As far as I know there’s still a guillotine hanging over me, because I haven’t been told that [the investigation] is closed,” said Taylor.


  2. 2 mins ago, zak-striper said:

    There was active military members, retired military members, active police members and retired police members attempting to force VP Pence to overturn the election, a power he didn't have. Every single one was a traitor who violated their oath to protect the constitution.

     

    I'm sure there was more than one Capital police officer who was sympathetic to the coup.

     

     

    So the SWAT guys lined up there were traitors? 

     

     


  3. 2 mins ago, fish'nmagician said:

    I don't think all the statues to Southern Traitors who fought for slavery is very unifying either.

    we should rethink the messages we send when putting up statues.

     

     

    I'm not disappointed by the right wing hypocrisy on this statue issue though.

    keep fighting every issue with the partisan blinders on.

     

    Civil War Generals and George Floyd

     

    The parallels are uncanny 


  4. 1 min ago, chumfish said:

    Under the thumbs of old, rich white liberals is no way to go through life.

     

    Manipulated into believing that every ****** things that happens to them is someone else's fault entirely 

     

    Manipulated into believing that they are being hunted and killed by Racist Police 

     

    I could go on and on

     

     


  5. 4 mins ago, Sqwiddig said:

    Good point.  The end of slavery in America should be commemorated with a holiday.  Certainly makes more sense than a holiday to celebrate the fact that Columbus discovered the Domnican Republic by accident and claimed it for Spain.

     

    Anti-Italian Bigotry is Ugly 


  6. 7 mins ago, zak-striper said:

    I said some, not "all". The capital police officers on the other side of the door were protecting the chambers and anyone still there.

    She was the 1st person stupid enough to breach the broken down door. There were dozens & dozens of people with her, violently breaking down the door. Don't be such a disingenuous troll.

     

    You realize that she literally nearly fell on top of one of the members of the SWAT team stacked up just behind her right 

     

     

     

     


  7. 3 mins ago, zak-striper said:

    There were dozens & dozens of people breaking through the doors with flag sticks, helmets and other objects. This was the last door before getting to the house chamber. Chants of "hang Mike Pence" and "Nancy where are you" were being heard throughout the building.

     

    3 minutes before the shooting, some members of congress passed by that door as they were be escorted to safety.

     

    It was a 100% good shot but a true patriot who shot a traitor who pissed on her military oath to "protect the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic."

     

     

    So if members of congress had already been escorted to safety an unarmed  Ashli Babbitt couldn't conceivably be a threat to them,  is that what your saying here?