Changing Minds With Rebekah Jones
Sometimes when we are stuck in a belief rut, we need difficult truths to come out of the mouths of our friends
I dearly hope this is the last time I write about Rebekah Jones.
I first wrote about Jones almost three years ago when her story of being fired over COVID data turned her into an instant “resist” celebrity. Since then, she created an “independent” COVID data dashboard that was little more than a mirror of the Florida Department of Health data, was arrested for using the DoH emergency communications system to send truly bizarre messages to every DoH employee, and lost a Congressional race to Matt Gaetz.
I shouldn’t even be bothering with her latest drama, which involved her claiming that Ron DeSantis kidnapped her son when he was, in fact, arrested for sending threatening messages about shooting up a school. The details are not important and I don’t really want to dwell on either that young man’s actions or his mother’s social media response. In keeping with her usual MO, Jones lied about it for money and attention.
We have to recount all this to get to the really interesting part of the story. Ana Kasparian, a host for the left-wing show The Young Turks, initially reported on most of Jones’ stories the same way that most media outlets did: by repeating the claims Jones made on social media.
However, after initially reporting that Jones’ son had been “kidnapped” by Ron DeSantis, Kasparian realized her mistake and started questioning Jones’ general veracity. She then went back and looked more critically at Jones’ history of outrageous accusations and self-aggrandizing claims of political persecution.
After giving these claims a critical eye, she came to largely the same conclusion Charles CW Cooke did almost two years ago: Rebekah Jones is an unreliable source and her claims should be thoroughly vetted before being presented uncritically.
She ended her segment with this mea culpa:
Part of the reason I screwed up is because I have all these biases against Ron DeSantis. I don’t really feel bad about that because I think that Ron DeSantis has done some pretty terrible things in the state of Florida, but that bias becomes a problem when it blinds you to what the facts of various stories happen to be. I should have done my due diligence, I failed to do so. And, failing to do so, I misled the audience into thinking that Rebekah Jones is some sort of hero.
Kasparian expressed frustration that the mainstream media reporting on Jones was so uncritical, noting that she and her co-hosts very often rely on the mainstream media to do foundational source-checking and reporting and to be a first-round bulwark against falsehoods.
It’s easy to say that she is now learning a lesson about the reliability of news-gathering and foundational reporting that many have learned long before now. That is true enough, but this is also a really great example of how people change their minds.