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DeSantis and the Media: (Not) a love story

If Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida somehow becomes the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, two factors will help explain why: his mastery of the party’s hostile relationship with mainstream media and his relentless flirtation with Fox News.

An August 2021 exchange is a prime example of how DeSantis interacts with the press – with a combination of confusion and grievance modeled after Donald Trump, political mentor and opponent his potential.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus just appeared, and a question about The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing in the state put him away. He explained that there is a lot of room in Florida hospitals.

Then, with a recoil, almost robotic movement, he signaled to reporters gathered in front of him. “I think it’s important to point out because obviously the media causes hysteria,” he said. “You try to be scared. You try to do this.”

As awkward and inept as it is now, it’s classic DeSantis – a frequently underrated politician who made the media the center of attention and focus during his rapid rise to prominence. his quick. The clash, not the number of cases, but the average almost 25,000 a day in Florida at the height of the Delta rise, led that day’s headlines.

“It’s his course of action that hasn’t been carried out yet,” said Peter Schorsch, publisher of FloridaPolitics.com. “The joke in the media.”

Former aides say that DeSantis views journalism as just another extension of the political process – a tool to weaponize or use for its own gain. In a recent interview on “Ruthless,” a conservative podcast, he explained his philosophy.

“For too long, for many Republicans, they’ve been holding off on corporate media coverage,” DeSantis said. “They will try to impress the corporate media. Don’t work with them. You must defeat them. You have to fight against them. “

He has proven to be very adept at fighting back.

The day after a “60 Minutes” report suggested that Florida’s vaccine program had been influenced by political donors, DeSantis held a 26-minute press conference – complete with a Powerpoint presentation – to disparage the CBS report as “malicious smears” and “a big lie.” Media critics agree segment was erroneous.

“I think you need that approach,” said Dave Vasquez, his former press secretary. “Some shops are throwing a big punch at him, so he goes in there thinking, ‘I’m going to fight really hard.’

The incident with “60 Minutes” earned him the sympathy of the right-wing media world, which cheered DeSantis when he slammed CBS for fraudulent editing and misleading insinuations.

“I see that as positive feedback,” he proud later. “If the corporate press across the country hadn’t attacked me, I probably wouldn’t be doing my job.”

DeSantis has wisely developed right-wing media outlets – and above all, Fox News.

It started in 2012, when DeSantis was an anonymous candidate for a US House seat in Florida. Somehow, he managed to Scoring Sean Hannity’s Fox News appearanceswhere a nervous-looking 33-year-old Iraq veteran talks about then-President Barack Obama and his alleged lack of support for Israel.

DeSantis won that race, and the relationship blossomed in the years that followed. When DeSantis ran for governor in 2018, he appeared regularly on Fox in what former aides admit was a strategy meant to secure mainstream endorsements by the network’s #1 fan. Sure enough, Trump endorsed him, and DeSantis went on to beat Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee, by less than 33,000 votes.

Lately, it seems that Fox News is pushing for another campaign: DeSantis’ thinly disguised effort for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Last year, Tampa Bay Times revealed that various Fox programs asked the Florida governor to appear on the network 113 times between November 2020 and late February 2021 — almost once per day. The Times cited emails from Fox employees talking about DeSantis, with one producer calling him “the future of the party.”

In response to the Tampa Bay article, Fox said it “works to secure daily interviews with headliners across the political spectrum, which is a basic journalistic practice at all times.” news organization”.

Last March, DeSantis invited Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends” to the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee to see Flattery features about his family.

“I am so proud that he was able to be there for the people of Florida,” his wife, Casey, said in the segment. “I mean, it’s not every day you can say you’re married to your hero.”

The mainstream press, which DeSantis always describes in writings like “Corporate media” or “Acela Media,” tends to be treated with brass knuckles – when it reaches him.

Former advisers say that DeSantis often fired the Florida press in particular, which he deemed biased and irrelevant. “I don’t think anyone reads them,” he told an aide.

In a March 2021 profile, Michael Kruse, a senior writer for Politico Magazine, described the governor’s relationship with the media as “Preferably sandpapery.” Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, publisher of The Miami Herald, 2020 accuse the governor’s office pressurize the newspaper not file a public record lawsuit seek information on how aged care facilities are responding to the pandemic. His spokesman denied the allegation.

After the Associated Press published a story implied that DeSantis was helping a top donor by promoting Regeneron, a biotech company that sells a coronavirus treatment, Twitter has suspended press secretary Christina Pushaw’s belligerent account because of what the company says social media said. The act of cursing, hitting.

In a tweet aimed at the AP, which she has since deleted, Pushaw wrote: “Drag them.” In another post, she wrote, “Light. Surname. Upward.”

In one letter to DeSantisDaisy Veerasingham, executive director of AP, asks him to stop Pushaw’s “harassment”. The AP reporter later described receiving death threats and keeping his account private.

In an interview, Pushaw said she was just asking her followers to criticize AP’s reporting. “Honestly,” she said, “they deserve that criticism.”

Journalists in Florida describe privately the atmosphere of fear since the arrival of Pushaw, who often engages in late-night Twitter wars with his enemies. On Sunday night, she suggested that Democratic agents considered Nazi sympathizers at a rally in Orlando. She deleted the tweet after an outcry, admitting it was “insolent.”

“There is nothing in it that can be construed as a cover for neo-Nazis,” Pushaw said. “What they are doing is despicable. I would never tolerate that in any way. “

As for the criticism that she was too aggressive with the press, Pushaw made no defense. “I think the press has struggled with the governor, and I call for that,” she said.

When asked about DeSantis’ relationship with the media, she said, “The Governor is willing to work with any reporter who covers him fairly.”

His former aides as well as his critics describe his approach to the media as methodical and ruthless, in contrast to Trump’s messy, serious approach.

“He studied what worked and left what didn’t work,” said David Jolly, a former Republican congressman who was contemplating running for governor against him. “He’s very good at maximizing Trump’s gains without carrying liabilities.”

Conservative writers have praised DeSantis for being so often ahead in his battles with the press. Dan McLaughlin, a columnist for the National Review, compare governor with Road Runner for his ability to continue to “escape with his head held high while the plans of his pursuers explode in front of them.”

When Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio host, died last February, DeSantis Ordered flags in Florida reduced to half staff – an honor usually bestowed on state officials or law enforcement heroes.

Announcement of the move, DeSantis Limbaugh praises to connect with “hardworking, God-fearing and patriotic Americans who have been and are the subject of ridicule in the old media.”

The flag order caused an uproar in Florida, but DeSantis made sure to mention it a few days later in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The question conservatives face, he told the audience, is: “When the klieg lights up, when the left is chasing you, will you stay strong, or will you fold?”

Judge Stephen G. Breyer, who announced his retirement last week, is known for spinning long-winded, hypothetical scenarios during Supreme Court arguments.

In today’s column, our colleague Adam Liptak recount an episode from Octoberin a case involving a water rights dispute between Tennessee and several other states:

Breyer said during the oral argument: “San Francisco has a beautiful fog. “Let’s say someone gets on a plane and takes some of that beautiful fog and flies off to Colorado, which has a beautiful atmosphere of its own.”

“And someone took it and flew it to Massachusetts or some other place,” he continued. “I mean, do you understand how I suddenly saw this and I’m completely at sea? It’s water flowing around. And whose country is it? I do not know. So you have a lot to explain to me, sorry, and I’ll forgive you if you don’t. ”

Is there something you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/us/politics/desantis-media.html DeSantis and the Media: (Not) a love story

Fry Electronics Team

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