Governor Ron DeSantis stood up to a woke Mickey Mouse company that challenged and misrepresented popular Florida legislation, yet the Washington Post ran this headline atop the profile it posted this morning.
Arguing that DeSantis pushed a culture war is akin to arguing that Zelensky was responsible for Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
Kudos to the Post for disclosing its bias up front.
I’m linking to the Post story about DeSantis because it’s a watershed moment in American journalism, and not because the blather is particularly insightful or enlightening. What’s notable about the story is that DeSantis didn’t grant the Post an interview, an important detail the story omitted.
DeSantis’ Yiddish-speaking Florida residents have an expression for the message the governor’s silence implicitly delivered to the Post: Kish Mir in Tuchas.
Look it up. It’s a Yiddishism worth knowing, although it sounds vulgar when literally translated.
There’s lots of speculation that DeSantis is mulling a run for president, and in years past it would have been unheard of for an aspiring candidate not to speak with the Washington Post at the drop of a hat. Presidential candidates relied on the Post to give them credibility and courting the publication was an obligatory step on the way to Iowa.
DeSantis and those close to him have let it be known they don’t hold the Post in particularly high regard. When Taylor Lorenz, the reporter who has come to define the Post’s new brand of TikTok journalism, alerted Christina Pushaw of a damning story putting DeSantis’ spokesperson in a negative light, Pushaw responded with a clown’s face.
It’s hard to image a starker demonstration of public disrespect.
DeSantis, a Harvard law graduate and a former Navy officer who was awarded a Bronze Star medal, isn’t the only person of superior intelligence opting to ignore the Post. Peter Thiel, who often was referred to as the “smartest person in Silicon Valley” before his libertarian politics became known, also declined to speak to the Post for this profile the publication posted in recent days.
Thiel understands the workings of media quite well. The billionaire funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that ultimately led to the demise of Gawker. Thiel was Facebook’s first outside investor and was an influential board member until this year.
Elon Musk, another person of considerable prominence and intellect, also avoids speaking with reporters. He did away with Tesla’s media relations department years ago, a move that didn’t hamper Tesla’s success and possibly may have abetted it.
But Thiel and Musk aren’t in politics, once the Post’s greatest strength and competitive advantage. DeSantis’ dissing of the publication portends more trouble for the ailing publication which the Wall Street Journal reported last year was hemorrhaging readers, particularly those coveted by advertisers.
A DeSantis presidency would be a disastrous blow to the legacy media. Unlike Donald Trump, DeSantis understands the legacy media’s modus operandi and doesn’t seek their approval. While Trump as president railed about the “fake news media” and the “failing New York Times,” he granted his NYTimes nemesis Maggie Haberman exclusive interviews that bolstered her publication’s credibility and importance. Trump was also surrounded by disloyal lieutenants who also blabbed to the Times and abetted the publication’s efforts to bring him down.
The legacy media has taken several runs at DeSantis, so far with disastrous results. Earlier this year the media attempted to portray DeSantis as an antisemite and tried linking him to a neo-Nazi rally in Orlando. The absurdity of the allegations was underscored by the fact that DeSantis first gained national attention questioning President Obama’s support for Israel.
DeSantis held a news conference where he unleashed unmitigated anger and addressed the unfounded allegations. The news conference demonstrated another talent that DeSantis possesses and Trump lacked: DeSantis offered a material response whereas Trump’s only capable response to unfavorable media coverage was calling every critical report “fake news” and dismissing the media as an “enemy of the people.”
Last April, 60 Minutes featured an “expose” claiming to show that Florida was giving vaccination priority to seniors because they were most likely to be wealthy and white and more inclined to vote for DeSantis. The program also slammed Publix for having gotten a state contract to distribute vaccines because it had given DeSantis a routine political contribution a year earlier.
The 60 Minutes attempted takedown was quickly discredited, even by Democrat Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s Division of Emergency Management Director. Publix’s campaign contribution amounted to a rounding error on DeSantis’ total political contributions. Publix admirably was able to get Florida’s most vulnerable jabbed, an example of why the supermarket chain enjoys unusual popularity in the state. DeSantis eviscerated 60 Minutes’ reporting with a “Facts vs. Smears” presentation that can be viewed here and a video of him delivering it here.
Pushaw, DeSantis’ spokesperson, isn’t your typical liberal arts political PR grad. She holds a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins, a highly competitive program that takes considerable smarts to get into. Pushaw is a fierce DeSantis loyalist; she reportedly got hired after sending a note to DeSantis’ then press secretary expressing her admiration for DeSantis’ handling of a hostile media and asked to join his team.
When the media deceptively labeled Florida’s legislation limiting any discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through 3rd grade as “The Don’t Say Gay Bill,” Pushaw countered by accusing those who opposed the bill as supporters of “grooming” which refers to a pedophile’s attempts to prepare a minor for abuse. Legacy media reporters believe only they have the right to misrepresent with dishonest labeling. This Slate profile reflects the media hatred that Pushaw has already garnered, no mean feat given that she’s only been working for DeSantis for a year and it’s her first job in U.S. government.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post continues to suffer a string of embarrassments, with Taylor Lorenz leading the way. The Post recently was forced to append two corrections to a Lorenz story after the publication tried to stealthily hide its errors. There is speculation the debacle cost a Post features editor his promotion and there have been reports that Lorenz’s stories must now be edited by a top editor.
The Post recently suspended a political editor for retweeting a joke that was deemed sexist and led to a tirade of Twitter attacks about management and colleagues by a reporter named Felicia Sonmez, whose discrimination lawsuit against the Post’s management was tossed in March. The Post subsequently fired Sonmez, but only after she had already caused the publication considerable embarrassment.
Bari Weiss, a former New York Times reporter, termed the incidents a “descent into middle school antics.” Perhaps it will soon dawn on the Post’s leadership as to why intelligent grown-ups no longer want to engage with the publication.