Lenny Curry declares journalism ‘dead’ after executed killer’s last words about Ron DeSantis are reported
Lenny Curry expects a brutal CD 4 primary, and he’s throwing punches even while not running. Image via Lenny Curry.

A number of journalists offered spirited responses.

The Mayor of a major Florida city has declared “journalism is dead.” In an ironic stroke, the declaration came after the final words of a man executed for murder were reported.

Donald Dillbeck, 59, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at Florida State Prison. He had been convicted in the murder of Faye Vann, 44, in Tallahassee near the state Capitol.

Dillbeck was sentenced to death 32 years ago, but his last words while strapped to a gurney in the death chamber didn’t reflect most of that confinement. Rather, they addressed Florida’s Governor.

“I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up. But I know Ron DeSantis has done a lot worse. He’s taken a lot from a lot of people. I speak for all men, women and children. He’s put his foot on our necks.”

Reporter Kathryn Varn reported the murderer’s final sentiments, which is notable given the unexpected nature of a condemned killer attempting social commentary in his last moments on earth. But for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, that simple act of journalism crossed the line.

“This is the USA TODAY. Journalism is dead in big legacy media organizations. They all sing from the same hymn book,” Curry commented.

Varn’s response was simple.

“I was doing my job, Mayor Curry.”

Vann’s children, Tony and Laura, released a statement after the execution: “11,932 days ago, Donald Dillbeck brutally killed our Mother. We were robbed of years of memories with her, and it has been very painful ever since.”

They thanked DeSantis for carrying out the execution, saying it “has given us some closure.”

Veteran journalists backed Varn in the replies.

“Covering an execution is one of the hardest jobs we have as reporters. We’re there to bear witness and report the last words of the executed, whatever they say,” asserted Jeff Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel.

“Consider his replies being turned off your badge of honor,” said Tia Mitchell, who reported in Jacksonville for many years before moving on to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and national prominence.

“How dare you straightforwardly report a thing that happened,” snarked Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union, arguably the leading political columnist in the state.

“This is an incredibly disappointing comment for various reasons, starting with the apparent rage over the objective reporting of an actual thing that happened, but also continuing a general theme of 8 years in office but no growth,” Monroe added in a quote tweet, also noting that a “hymn book” is a “hymnal.”

The execution was Florida’s first in nearly four years and the third under DeSantis. By comparison, his immediate predecessor, current U.S. Republican Sen. Rick Scott, oversaw 28 executions.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • tom palmer

    February 24, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Who cares what the mayor of any town says about anything that doesn’t involve running their towns?

  • Paul Passarelli

    February 24, 2023 at 9:47 am

    stated: “Covering an execution is one of the hardest jobs we have as reporters. We’re there to bear witness and report the last words of the executed, whatever they say.”

    I agree that the job of the journalist is to report the event. But there was nothing ‘hard’ about that aspect of the job, this time. An animal was put down. Years too late. And we all know the only reason the media covered the execution was to sell newspapers!

    • Joe Corsin

      February 24, 2023 at 12:52 pm

      The Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman refused to tell reporters what his last statement was because he said that DeSantis and the rest of you conservative sub-apes should munch on a king kong ding dong. That’s ok though, because national news picked it up… not to be confused with DeSantis News, Mike Lindell News, or Alex Jones News.

  • Brooke

    February 24, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Curry has been disparaged by the media so many times, usually with good reason by talented reporters. His administration’s failures are good evidence for the need for strong journalists in Florida.

  • Seber Newsome III

    February 24, 2023 at 11:34 am

    who cares what crooked Lenny Curry says about anything. his political career is over, worst mayor in the history of jacksonville, period.

  • Richard Bruce

    February 24, 2023 at 11:51 am

    No problem reporting on POS’ last word as long they do not further an editorial agenda on Gov DeSantis or any other person. Just report the facts.

    • Joe Corsin

      February 24, 2023 at 12:54 pm

      They should have let him off the gurney after he cursed DeSantis..who comitted homicide himself. They should have put DeSantis on the gurney.

  • Elliott Offen

    February 24, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    The Florida Department of Corrections spokesman refused to even tell the First Coast News reporter anything about his last statement. She only said something like, “His last statement wasn’t (audio) recorded, and he didn’t provide one in writing.” That’s because Dillbeck cursed DeSantis and said that he could munch a ding dong. The Florida Department of Corrections shilled for DeSantis. Nevermind the fact that they don’t pay people sht to work for the Florida Department of Corrections, don’t take corrections seriously, and someone dies of homicide or suicide every 10 days in there because of Republican malfeasance. After Dillbeck cursed DeSantis, they should have let him off the gurney and released him. Instead, he died a hero. Long live Donald Dillbeck.

  • cassandra

    February 24, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    It is disturbing that there is any debate at all over a journalist’s *RESPONSIBILITY* to report the facts including final words. Or the condemned prisoner’s right to speak–and be heard–free of government censorship.

    Executions have been witnessed by the public throughout history. Christian readers may be familiar with that of JC, who called out his final words to your god. (Over his lifetime, JC also had a few words for hypocrites.) Since we can no longer all gather around the cross or fit into the execution room, the media is tasked with bringing us the facts of what was said and done. Most death sentences are carried out with media present. What do objectors want? Government approved scripts? Respect the First Amendment.

  • Tom

    February 24, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    Dillbeck was right. DeSantis was worse. DeSantis has more homocides. These executions aren’t natural causes or suicides, they are homocides and DeSantis signed the death warrant and ordered the homocides. His reasons were the same as Dillbeck’s reasons. He thought the person was bad and didn’t deserve to live. Both Dillbeck and DeSantis were pissed about what someone else did and they both killed.

    • Zhombre

      February 25, 2023 at 7:16 am

      You don’t even know how to spell, homicide, you moron.

      • Tom

        February 25, 2023 at 11:47 am

        Typos don’t make people morons. Voting against your own interests does. If you aren’t a billionaire, then you’re voting against your own interests if you vote GOP.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 25, 2023 at 12:17 pm

          Tell us Tom, in whose interest is inflation beneficial?

          Under President Trump Inflation was at a multi decade low, so was unemployment, fuel was cheap, grocery shelves were full, the world was on notice that the US expected our economic partners in Europe to pay their fair share of the protection of Europe. There was a firm Stay in Mexico policy. Political graft was being exposed. The Middle East was quiet, no new wars were started.

          Tell us how life is better after a mere two years of the Democrat shit show.

          It’s not the typos that prove one to be stupid, it’s the insanity & the defense of the stupidity that prove it to be so.

  • It’s Complicated

    February 27, 2023 at 9:33 am

    So, DeSantis’ political moves are worse than murdering two people? Guess that’s a matter of perspective.

  • Jimmy Conner

    February 27, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    Democrats are defending a two time cold blooded murderer. No wonder
    Murder is so abundant in democrat cities.

  • rustic

    February 27, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    DeSatan and his GOP lapdogs are going to pass “false light” legislation real quick. They have no respect for the First Amendment. They only want people to hear and read what furthers their own views. Thanks all you dummies who elected these assclowns. “Abortion is murder but oh that death penalty sure is swell!” Hippo Krauts!

Comments are closed.


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