Mainstream Media Criticized for Not Giving Enough Attention to Top FL Democrat Sexual Harassment Allegations

By Lydia Nusbaum, Florida's Voice

May 11, 2022 Updated 8:53 PM ET

State Rep. Ramon Alexander (left), Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch (right)
State Rep. Ramon Alexander (left), Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch (right)

May 11, 2022  Updated 3:05P.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – One of Florida’s top House Democratic leaders is accused of sexually harassing a former athletic official at Florida A&M University, according to an in-depth report from the Tallahassee Democrat.

However, some Florida Republicans believe these allegations are not receiving the attention it deserves from outlets like ‘Florida Politics.’

The Tallahassee Democrat extensively reported Monday that State Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, is accused of groping and sending explicit photos of himself to Michael Johnson Jr. who is the former athletic official at the University. Alexander is next in line to lead Florida House Democrats in 2023.

House Minority Leader Evan Jenne, D-Hollywood, said in a statement that it would be irresponsible to provide many comments because of the “serious nature” of the allegations.

“My thoughts are with all those involved. Due to the sensitive and serious nature of the allegations being leveled and ongoing legal action, it would be irresponsible to comment with any more specificity,” Jenne said.

Florida Politics was first to break the news about the sexual harassment allegations against Alexander on their text alert system on May 9th. That outlet only included a three sentence write-up in their morning “Sunburn” report on May 11th.

Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch said on Twitter on May 9th that the outlet will give Alexander “privacy” and will not publish any graphic photos or videos.

“FP (Florida Politics) will give Rep. Alexander the space and privacy his family needs at this time. Hoping the rest of the #FlaPol media world will do likewise,” Schorsch said on Twitter.

Florida Republicans are upset that Florida Politics did not write a full report on the sexual harassment allegations.

“The legacy media of Florida’s refusal to cover this story-which is the biggest scandal of the year in Florida politics— shows you what corrupt scumbags they are,” said Republican State Rep. Anthony Sabatini. “Sexual-harassment, corruption in government ethics, sexual solicitation, par for play etc. and yet the media won’t cover it because the perpetrator is a Democrat… Absolutely disgusting.”

Lee County GOP Chairman Jonathan Martin was not even aware of the allegations until Florida’s Voice asked him about them.

“We have seen time and time again, a Republican caught in the same transgressions as a Democrat will get extensively more negative coverage than their colleagues on the left,” Martin said. “I think their track record of extensive negative reporting on Republicans who make mistakes and their lack of journalistic integrity when covering Democrats who make mistakes speaks for itself.”

Only paying subscribers can read the Tallahassee Democrat’s extensive story on the allegations.

“Private companies including news agencies have the right to require paid subscribers to read their stories. However, there are countless free media outlets that should provide coverage if they are real journalism outlets,” Martin said.

The Tallahassee Democrat reports that Democratic State Rep. Ramon Alexander apologized and told the outlet that it was an “adult consensual” relationship with Johnson. 

“I am willing to acknowledge that I had a consensual, adult relationship with Mr. Johnson, but at no point was I ever his employer, an employee of FAMU or involved in FAMU personnel decisions,” Alexander told the Tallahassee Democrat. “My family and I have been working through this for many months and I am sincerely sorry for my actions.” 

However, Johnson said there was not a physical relationship between the two of them. The news outlet reports that Johnson filed complaints with the Florida Commission on Human Relations which included alleging Alexander harassed and intimidated him.

Peter Schorsch with Florida Politics said in a Twitter thread that Alexander was not Johnson’s supervisor and was not in a position to fire Johnson. Schorsch said there are revenge porn laws.

“It was an adult, consensual relationship; it didn’t go very far and it is over, Alexander insists,” Schorsch said on Twitter. “.@RamonAlexander is not and was not in a position of authority at @FAMU_1887 , but the party filing the complaint with the state’s employment dispute resolution arm (the Florida Commission on Human Rights) … is using the relationship to out him to the press …”

Schorsch told Florida’s Voice that they sent out the text alert to accelerate the Tallahassee Democrat’s publishing timetable so the story wouldn’t be buried.

“In fact, we broke the story through our text alert system,” Schorsch said. “I also decided that we would not be sensationalizing the story by publishing the most graphic content.”

But Martin said there should have been extensive coverage like seen with scandals with Republicans.

“It’s a journalist’s job to provide facts so voters can decide. It’s not their job to hide facts because a voter might make a different decision at the polls with those facts. The Media keeps democracy alive not by hiding the news but by informing the public,” Martin said.

In 2021, Florida Politics extensively reported on sexual-harassment allegations against Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters. Florida Politics said it was the first to report those allegations.

Gruters called those allegations a “smear campaign” and referred to the complaint as a “false accusation,” in their report. Investigators were “unable to substantiate the allegations” and Gruters was cleared. The Florida Politics’ article reported speculations surrounding when the investigation into Gruters took place and how the Republican party handled the matter.

When asked why Florida Politics published separate articles on the allegations against Gruters and not Alexander, Schorsch said because they had all of the details for the Gruters story.

“The Gruters story was ‘our story’ – we had all of the details based on our reporting; with the Alexander story we only had what we wrote at the time. The Democrat had more extensive coverage,” Schorsch said.

Jim Stinson, a logistics reporter, said in a Twitter thread that Florida Politics is trying to “protect” the Democrat representative.

“And again, the owner and publisher of Florida Politics is all-in on attacks on @mattgaetz and Donald Trump for alleged affairs. How is this different? How does Peter know if he declines to assign it out?” Stinson said on Twitter. 

Schorsch has previously tweeted an article encouraging men to speak up in the #MeToo movement, including men who may have experienced harassment.

Alexander has become a prominent Florida Democrat. He was in the national spotlight for his criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Stop W.O.K.E Act” that bans educators and workplace employers from teaching Floridians that their “moral character” is determined by race, sex, or national origin. 

Alexander sat on panel discussions for MSNBC and was covered by the Washington Post and CNN. Now the Governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, wonders whether those outlets will follow up on these allegations.

Florida Politics, however, did spend Tuesday taking aim at Pushaw for replying to a tweet with the comment “masks?” The tweet she replied to had a picture of people wearing masks at an apparent Nazi rally in Orlando with text claiming a Jewish Democrat Attorney General candidate is “pushing” the rally. 

Alexander is married and is also the executive director of “Distinguished Young Gentlemen,” which provides mentoring for students. 

Read the Tallahassee Democrat’s full report here.

FLV Founder and Editor-in-Chief Brendon Leslie and Executive Producer Eric Daugherty contributed to this report.

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Florida’s Voice is a patriotic news network that you can trust to deliver the truth with no hidden agenda. Founder and Editor in Chief Brendon Leslie left his job in mainstream news to practice journalism as it should be, unbiased and unbossed.

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