Axios Reporter Gets the Boot After His Response to DeSantis Press Release Is Exposed


Former Axios reporter Ben Montgomery apparently makes excellent crepes with whipped cream and strawberry compote. It’s a good thing he’s a man of multiple talents, because he’s only going to be using one of them for the immediate future.

It won’t be reporting.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Montgomery was dismissed by Axios after the Tampa-based journalist responded to a media release by Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis by calling it “propaganda.”

As Mediaite noted, the news release dealt with a Department of Education hosted by DeSantis that was dedicated to “exposing the diversity equity and inclusion scam in higher education.”

The move comes as DeSantis and Florida Republicans continue to push forward with a bill that would effectively kill diversity, equity and inclusion offices in state colleges and universities.

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The Monday event came on the same day the bill moved out of a subcommittee in the Florida House of Representatives, the Orlando Weekly reported.

“These bills effectively eliminate DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and other types of discriminatory programs and activities. But it also prohibits soliciting pledges of DEI or CRT (critical race theory) or any political viewpoint that’s a condition of hiring, promotion or admissions,” according to the Orlando Weekly.

But, as Florida Department of Education communications director Alex Lanfranconi revealed in a Twitter post Monday afternoon, not everyone in the media was happy about the event — particularly Montgomery, who had this seven-word response to the DeSantis news release:

While any Axios employee who maintains with a straight face that the publication is objective, neutral and politically centrist should have been up for an Oscar on Sunday, Axios isn’t an opinion or commentary rag. It’s a hard news site that serves as a kind of wire-service news organization updated for the smartphone era, a bit like The Associated Press or Reuters for those with limited attention spans.

Even with the leftist bias baked in, this wasn’t going to go unnoticed — and on Tuesday, Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein reported that Montgomery had been fired over the email.

“This reporter is no longer with Axios. Out of respect for our employees, we do not discuss conditions of departure,” said Axios editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani Goo in a statement.

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At the Poynter Institute, a non-profit school of journalism and research organization in St. Petersburg, Florida, owned by the Tampa Bay Times, senior writer Tom Jones reported Montgomery’s side of the story.

Montgomery told Jones he had written the email, but had not intended it for publication. (“It’s not like I tweeted it,” he said.)

Jones also wrote that Montgomery is a former reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, where the two worked at the same time and had a casual acquaintance. He noted that Montgomery was an experienced journalist who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for the Tampa Bay Times in 2010.

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That sounds laudable and all, but it’s just another way of saying he should have known better.

Prominent DeSantis aide Christina Pushaw certainly had a moment of schadenfreude over the axing, noting that maybe Montgomery “should have considered being a journalist, not an activist or propagandist” and that “accountability in media is a good thing, actually.”

Others had similar responses to the email:

And, as for Montgomery, you can find him in the kitchen for the week:

I have little doubt Montgomery will land on his feet somewhere. In the world of modern journalism, the cardinal sin isn’t that Montgomery had utter contempt for the politician he was supposed to be covering “objectively” (nudge nudge, wink wink), it’s that he was foolish enough to make his feelings openly known to the people he was supposed to be sandbagging covertly in an email that could be screenshotted.

(It’s also worth asking how much thought Montgomery has given to the other news releases he’s read in his journalistic career. He might have noticed they all tend toward the “propaganda” side. That’s more or less what news releases are — whether they’re from government offices, major corporations or political activist groups.)

Considering the general leftist bent Axios demonstrates regularly, Montgomery’s great sin likely wasn’t substituting contempt for objectivity. It was substituting overt contempt for the covert contempt the rest of the outfit cultivates toward DeSantis and other conservatives.

If only he’d held his tongue, he could have escaped an unpaid vacation filled with crepe-making and resumé-polishing.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture