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In a clearly choreographed move designed to recuse Republican Ron DeSantis’ reputation as he eyes a possible White House run in 2024, the right-wing media have launched an aggressive campaign to portray him as a Covid hero because the pandemic caseload in Florida is on the decline.
Even for an industry that operates in a factual parallel universe, the idea that DeSantis, who has overseen 60,000 pandemic deaths in the Sunshine State, should be championed as a Covid leader and that the “liberal” media are denying him his rightful victory lap, represents a lopsided wrestling match with reality.
Fact: All summer long Florida was the epicenter for a deadly Covid outbreak caused by the Delta variant, while the governor loudly railed against mask and vaccine mandates. Between the months of July and October, at least 21,000 Floridians died at a time when a safe, free, and effective vaccine was available. (During those same four months, 8,600 Covid patients died in California, a similarly large warm-weather state.) At one point Florida recorded more coronavirus cases in a week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined.
Now DeSantis wants a parade and Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets are leading the phony charge. “He’s not getting credit for the low numbers we are seeing of Covid infections in Florida,” “Fox & Friends Saturday” announced over the weekend. “I think Governor DeSantis is looking quite good now,” added Fox News doctor Marc Siegel, who early on in the pandemic insisted the “virus should be compared to the flu" because "worst case scenario it could be the flu."
Murdoch’s dailies have quickly pitched in: “The Country Needs a Dose of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Battle COVID-19” (New York Post), “Media Ignore Florida Covid Recovery” (Wall Street Journal). Fox’s Brit Hume used the recent Journal piece to troll reporters. “Media have made Florida’s DeSantis a bete noire on Covid. So how do they cover his state’s sharp decline in Covid cases? They don’t,” he tweeted.
Let’s be clear, the mainstream media was not hard on DeSantis for his handling of Covid this year. In fact, they foolishly lionized him. It was Politico that announced, “How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic.” This, after governor placed one million orders of hydroxychloroquine in tribute to Trump. “Vindication for Ron DeSantis,” the Wall Street Journal announced. And The New York Times cheered, “In a country just coming out of the morose grip of coronavirus lockdowns, Florida feels unmistakably hot.”
The right-wing argument today is that because Covid cases are down in Florida, DeSantis gets all the credit. But cases are down everywhere in part because the Biden administration has overseen a wildly successful vaccination roll-out, where 75 percent of eligible adults have received at least one shot. Because of that, the potency of the Delta variant has subsided.
In other words, if DeSantis did absolutely nothing to help with the pandemic the caseload would be falling in Florida, and it is. Instead of doing nothing though, he rolled out executive orders, dubious legal actions, and bullying threats in order to undermine local school boards that implemented mask mandates. He did the same in order to slow momentum among private employers who began instituting vaccine mandates for workers when the Delta surge was running wild.
DeSantis also started taking advice from the far-right Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a Harvard-educated physician with no expertise in public health, who has questioned the effectiveness of vaccines while promoting hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid, which the FDA has said is not effective.
Meanwhile, those on the ground in Florida continue to eviscerate the governor’s aggressively incompetent, and borderline criminal, Covid oversight.
“The do-nothing governor is trying to claim credit for this surge coming to an end,” noted the Orlando Sentinel. “It is DeSantis’ final and most essential command — to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. How Orwellian.”
“We thought things couldn’t get much worse in DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic, but we were wrong — then we were wrong again,” lamented a recent Miami Herald editorial. “Just when you think he’s done enough to undermine our chances of exiting a pandemic that has killed nearly 60,000 Floridians, he has a new trick up his sleeve.”
DeSantis’ most recent move is to call a special legislative session to undermine federal requirements that some workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Among the laws he wants passed is one making businesses liable for medical harm that results from mandatory vaccinations, even though tens of millions of vaccines have safely been administered in the U.S.
Local Republicans are onboard and say they’re considering legislation to withdraw Florida from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency in charge of carrying out President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate.
So no, DeSantis does not deserve a Covid reward.
📺 GOOD STUFF:
The Virginia governor’s race was clearly a disappointment for Democrats, and the odious race ought to set off alarms in terms of how candidates communicate.
From Greg Sargent’s excellent piece in the Washington Post, “Glenn Youngkin’s Repulsive Final Push Reveals a Dark Truth for Democrats”:
It’s a repulsively cynical finale, after a campaign built heavily around stoking white grievance with attacks on phantom critical race theory in schools and torquing up the base by feeding Donald Trump’s lies about our election system.
But this duplicity has benefited from a hidden assist. For months, Youngkin and his allies have pumped that raw right-wing sewage directly into the minds of the GOP base, behind the backs of moderate swing voters, via a right-wing media network that has no rival on the Democratic side.
Democrats will have to reckon with this. Whether Democrat Terry McAuliffe wins or loses — it will be very close either way — this race highlights this lopsided communications imbalance with unique clarity.
🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Seth Walker, “All I Need To Know”
Every now and then I put my entire iPod library on shuffle (40,000-plus songs) and inevitably stumble onto something that’s been criminally overlooked by me for years.
My latest find is Walker’s 2019 effort, “All I Need To Know.” Bouncy, infectious and packed with a melodic reggae feel, it’s a ray of sunshine.
here we are in the dark
no need to speak no need
cause your eyes are telling me
all i need to know all i need
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click here to listen via Apple Music.