Christina Pushaw—Press Secretary for Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis—was widely mocked after she tweeted a screenshot of a fake news story allegedly written by Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz about a daschund that has "become the new face of online homophobia."
The dog in question, Whitney Chewston, is owned by Ben Campbell and Logan Hickman, a gay couple that runs Chewston's Instagram account, which has a substantial online following.
Whitney Chewston became the subject of a well known meme last year that often features her sitting next to a glass of red wine with a Whisper caption that reads, "not too fond of gay people," suggesting she is homophobic.
Homophobic dog a thread:pic.twitter.com/rS9hHdBwRz— #FireBrianFerentz\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@#FireBrianFerentz\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1649344779
The original Instagram post is much more innocent, of course, and received more than 26,000 likes since it was first posted in June 2019.
The meme has been around for well over a year but Pushaw didn't bother to fact check before she tweeted an attack against Lorenz, saying she is "infamous for showing up masked on random people's doorsteps & sliding into the DMs of tiktok teenagers."
More cutting edge journalism from the 49 year old Washington Post activist infamous for showing up masked on random people's doorsteps & sliding into the DMs of tiktok teenagers.pic.twitter.com/Ua0Al8J1jq— Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Christina Pushaw \ud83d\udc0a \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1652729738
But the screenshot is fake and the "story" was recently fact checked by Snopes.
Homophobic daschunds are the stuff of fantasy.
Pushaw was swiftly called out.
What\u2019s Freedom if you can\u2019t post fake news online to own libs.https://twitter.com/christinapushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— James_Polls (@James_Polls) 1652815352
Screaming \u201cfake news! fake news!\u201d at people while posting *literal* fake newshttps://twitter.com/christinapushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— Brian Tashman (@Brian Tashman) 1652810113
Not only is this person not bright enough to spot a fake, they are too lazy to check, and by now, having been made aware of the error, they\u2019re too deplorable to correct/delete this. https://twitter.com/christinapushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— Julian\u00ae \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Julian\u00ae \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1652811243
Wherein Ron DeSantis's press secretary fails a basic media literacy check.\n\nShe only had to roll an 8.https://twitter.com/ChristinaPushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— melon husk \ud83d\udd34\u26ab\ufe0f (@melon husk \ud83d\udd34\u26ab\ufe0f) 1652813041
this is a meme image lmfao if I live in Florida I would be too ashamed to get out of bedhttps://twitter.com/christinapushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— hybrid creature (@hybrid creature) 1652810931
You should change your bio to "here to spread false narratives" :)https://twitter.com/ChristinaPushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026— Elizabeth Rose Ortner (@Elizabeth Rose Ortner) 1652812135
Taylor Lorenz, for her part, has a good sense of humor about the whole thing, pledging to actually write the article if she gets to 500,000 followers on Twitter.
Oh my god she thinks it\u2019s real I\u2019m laughing so hard https://twitter.com/christinapushaw/status/1526285265261711361\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/ZYHzipU4dc— Taylor Lorenz (@Taylor Lorenz) 1652761757
Lorenz has been a target in conservative circles in recent weeks after she managed to unmask the woman behind "Libs of TikTok," a right-wing Twitter account known for sharing conspiracy theories, homophobic and transphobic content and anything that attacks liberals. The account has helped set the agenda of right-wing discourse in attacks against public education and teachers.
Lorenz identified the woman behind the account as Chaya Raichik, a Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish real estate agent, noting she had created the account in November 2020 and spent some time experimenting with Twitter handles before landing on the Libs of TikTok angle last spring.
Raichik used the account to share inflammatory content, such as a clip of a woman teaching sexual education to children in Kentucky she branded a "predator," a claim that quickly made its way to Fox News personality Laura Ingraham's program.
The account has also served as a space vital to the spread of conspiracy theories alleging teachers are "grooming" children and proceeding with an "indoctrination" campaign designed to make children more tolerant of the LGBTQ+ community.
Despite the fact Lorenz used publicly available information—namely Raichik's real estate license—to identify her, conservatives accused her and The Washington Post of engaging in unethical journalistic practices.