News & Politics

'Second Look' at DeSantis by Major Media a Classic Set-Up

AP Photo/John Raoux

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is being seriously mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 if Donald Trump declines to run. Indeed, DeSantis is finally getting some attention for a pandemic strategy that kept the Florida economy from collapsing, school kids learning, and jobs from fleeing the state.

Every step of the way, he drew hysterical criticism from the media for “not following the science.” DeSantis ignored them and today, Florida is a model for the rest of the nation.

“[M]uch of the state has a boomtown feel, a sense of making up for months of lost time.” That quote didn’t appear in some pro-DeSantis paper in Florida or some pro-Republican magazine. That’s a quote from the almighty New York Times, which claims that DeSantis’s COVID response deserves “a second look.”

Yet Florida’s death rate is no worse than the national average, and better than that of some other states that imposed more restrictions, despite its large numbers of retirees, young partyers and tourists. Caseloads and hospitalizations across most of the state are down. The tens of thousands of people who died were in some ways the result of an unspoken grand bargain — the price paid for keeping as many people as possible employed, educated and, some Floridians would argue, sane.

National Review editor Charles Cook says that the Times’ argument is nonsense.

This makes no sense. It cannot simultaneously be true that “the tens of thousands of people who died were in some ways the result of an unspoken grand bargain” and that Florida’s death rate is “no worse than the national average, and better than that of some other states that imposed more restrictions.” If it is true that Florida both refused to lock down harshly and kept as “many people as possible employed, educated and . . . sane” and has a death rate that is “no worse than the national average, and better than that of some other states that imposed more restrictions, despite its large numbers of retirees, young partyers and tourists” — well, then there was neither a meaningful tradeoff nor a “grand bargain,” was there?

No, but using rhetorical devices to savage a potential presidential opponent for the Democrat — Biden, Harris, or whoever — is still very satisfying.

It’s a damn sight better than the media’s earlier coverage of DeSantis, which all but called him a murderer for opening the state. DeSantis was part of a “death cult” of Republicans and didn’t care about people dying, preferring to keep his business friends happy.

Times have changed. The Times now points to Florida as a model for other states to follow. Cook continued:

Its unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, compared to 9.3 percent in California, 8.7 percent in New York and 6.9 percent in Texas”; and that “children have been in classrooms since the fall”; and that the restaurants and hotels in Miami are almost back to normal. It acknowledges that “when the state did not close beaches, there was national outrage, though the decision seems obvious in retrospect, given how much safer people are outside.” It features a glowing quotation from a Democrat, who says that she has “found herself unexpectedly defending Mr. DeSantis’s policies to her friends up north.” And it highlights that those policies were correct in ways that, say, New York’s were not: “Florida also did not allow hospitals to discharge coronavirus patients back into nursing homes, unlike New York, a policy that likely avoided more fatalities.”

Why all the glowing coverage for DeSantis? It’s a classic bait-and-switch tactic that the media has gotten very good at.

Does anyone remember when John McCain was the New York Times’ fair-haired boy? He was the go-to guy for an anti-Republican or anti-Bush quote for the media. He was a “maverick,” an “independent voice” in the Senate.

Until he ran for president. Then he grew horns and a tail and became just another Republican racist devil.

In order to effectively tear DeSantis to pieces, the liberal media must first build him up in the public’s estimation. Once he’s riding high, the counter-assault will begin. DeSantis has been around long enough to know the score. He knows not to get too excited about media coverage at this early date. He knows once the race begins to heat up, liberals will redouble their efforts to smear him.

It’s not only predictable, it’s boring.