Axios has parted ways with reporter Ben Montgomery after he referred to a press release by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as “propaganda.” Montgomery had responded to an email about a roundtable discussion on “divisive concepts such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the impact that these concepts have had on Florida higher education institutions and the students that attend them,” stating that it was propaganda rather than a press release.
The incident was brought to light by Florida Department of Education communications director Alex Lanfranconi, who shared a screenshot of the email response on social media. Montgomery faced backlash from the right, but he stated that his issue with the press release was due to its lack of necessary context, and not partisan politics.
While Montgomery’s daughters were proud of him, he was fired from Axios for violating the organization’s Editorial Ethics Policy, which requires all staffers to “maintain professionalism with all sources” and “respect and be civil to all people we have contact with.” Montgomery acknowledged that he could have better articulated his problem with the press release and regretted his brief response.
The press release featured several guests discussing the impact of DEI initiatives on education and the damage they cause students. It argued that these concepts “force exclusion and division within higher education, and do not in any way contribute to learning or knowledge.”