Monday, August 09, 2021


Eric Boehlert is right:
The press needs to address its DeSantis debacle

As Covid rages on in Florida, turning the Sunshine State not only into a virus epicenter of the United States but of the entire world, news organizations aren’t being honest about the public health crisis under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. They’re not being transparent about how months ago they embraced GOP spin and portrayed the derelict governor as a pandemic star, regurgitating conservative rhetoric about how liberal critics had been proven wrong about DeSantis’ wrong-headed policy decisions, which have since propelled Florida into a grave health crisis.

The state recently broke its one-day record for new Covid cases, topping out at 21,000 which is as many new cases as the entire country of France tabulates each day.
(Boehlert wrote this late last week. Today the number was 28,317.)
... the political press is terrible at conceding its mistakes, especially when those blunders are documented by liberals.

... This spring, journalists eagerly touted DeSantis’ supposed virus leadership— it was Politico that announced, “How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic.” ...

"After a year of criticism by health experts, mockery from comedians and blistering critiques from political rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing unabashedly tall among the nation's governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight," CNN cheered, adding that DeSantis remained "defiant and combative.” ...

“Vindication for Ron DeSantis,” the Wall Street Journal announced. The New York Times cheered, “In a country just coming out of the morose grip of coronavirus lockdowns, Florida feels unmistakably hot.”

Not one of those news outlets, that I’ve seen or heard, has addressed its glowing DeSantis coverage, or explained to news consumers how and why newsrooms rushed in to paint the Republican as a Covid savior, only to watch the state now grapple with a man-made crisis.
What's remarkable is that a reassessment of the press's glowing DeSantis coverage could be shoehorned into the "both sides" template the media loves so much. The press also treated Democrat Andrew Cuomo as a pandemic savior, even as he was covering up nursing home deaths and sexually harassing and assaulting women in his office. This is a perfect opportunity for a bipartisan mea culpa. Were we too quick to make heroes of both of these flawed leaders?

But that won't happen, because the press still regards DeSantis as a growth stock. The press really wants someone like DeSantis for the future -- someone who isn't Donald Trump but who, like Trump, seems undamaged by scandals, even self-inflicted ones, that would sink other politicians. Maybe "growth stock" isn't the right metaphor; the press seems to regard DeSantis as a sexy daredevil. (He can't possibly escape from this ... can he? YES, HE CAN!)

So unless he loses his reelection bid next year -- some polls suggest he's vulnerable, others don't -- he'll get a pass for everything he does. The press is now conditioned to admire politicians who are monsters, if they get away with it, precisely because they get away with it. The more monstrous the behavior DeSantis gets away with, the more exciting he seems. The fact that lives are in the balance doesn't matter to the media.

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