No governor’s story is as emblematic of media malpractice in the era of coronavirus than of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. An opponent of the draconian lockdowns eroding liberty at the stroke of a pen, DeSantis has angered statists more than has any Republican in the past year except for Donald Trump.
By refusing the one-size-fits-all approach demanded by Dr. Anthony Fauci, a triumphant DeSantis has become both a villain to the left and a hero of the right. Florida’s death rate remains half that of locked-down New York and New Jersey as of this writing, amid significantly freer conditions.
Few Americans would know this with a cursory glance at the media coverage. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo writes books on leadership, receives an Emmy, and frolics with his brother on prime-time television while the same media vilifies red-state governors who choose to keep their states open. The double-standard coverage exposed itself again this weekend.
On Saturday, while the embattled media darling of a governor in New York finally faces a reckoning over shoving COVID-infected patients into nursing homes, NBC directed fire at DeSantis for effectively rolling out COVID vaccines in his state.
“Florida governor accused of playing politics with COVID vaccine,” the Peacock Network headlined a hit piece complaining about the governor’s choice to prioritize vaccines for the elderly, the most susceptible population to the novel Wuhan coronavirus. Yes, you read that right: they said it was political to prioritize the most-vulnerable group for vaccine distribution.
“When Holocaust survivors and Cuban survivors of the Bay of Pigs debacle — revered members of two other key Florida voting blocs — got their first shots, DeSantis made sure he was there for the news conferences,” NBC reported, complaining about Holocaust survivors being vaccinated. “And now the governor stands accused of using the Covid-19 vaccine to reward powerful political supporters and developers by setting up pop-up vaccination sites in planned communities they developed and where GOP voters predominate.”
By “GOP voters,” NBC means “the elderly.”
Florida Gov. DeSantis stands accused of using the Covid-19 vaccine to reward powerful political supporters and developers by setting up pop-up vaccination sites in planned communities they developed and where Republican voters predominate. https://t.co/Ove38xDtCw
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 20, 2021
Those “political supporters” NBC identified are senior citizens aged 65 and over. It appears NBC Googled a company that helped with a pop-up vaccination site in Manatee County, a targeted community of elderly residents hosting one of several pop-up events around the state, found Republican voters nearby, and reported the two could be connected.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, ignored federal guidelines and prioritized getting senior citizens — one of Florida’s most potent voting blocs — vaccinated first,” the network wrote.
Since older people tend to vote Republican in the United States, does this mean Cuomo was trying to kill off his opposition in New York?
This MSNBC article bizarrely attacks DeSantis for prioritizing the following people:
✅ Holocaust survivors
✅ Bay of Pigs survivors
✅ Seniors — the group most vulnerable to the Coronavirus
✅ A 94-year-old Korean War veteran named Vern Cummings https://t.co/4WcbNvrFsK
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) February 20, 2021
Other outlets were quick to follow suit in an effort to skewer DeSantis’ success presiding over one of the most effective vaccine rollouts in the country in a state home to one of the largest populations of seniors. According to National Review, Florida leads the nation in vaccinating seniors aged 65 and older as DeSantis pursues an aggressive rollout strategy targeting the elderly in areas with low vaccination rates.
“County officials blasted DeSantis over vaccine site in an affluent White area. So he threatened to take away the doses,” blared a headline in the Washington Post.
“Well-off Manatee residents get special vaccine access, courtesy of DeSantis,” scorned another in the Tampa Bay Times.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’s minority outreach efforts, magazine media reporter Ryan Mills noted, have gone entirely overlooked by national media pursuing a pre-determined narrative.
In early February DeSantis teamed with former NFL star Anquan Boldin to distribute vaccines in Boldin’s hometown of Pahokee, an impoverished farming community on the shore of Lake Okeechobee. More than 60 percent of Pahokee’s population is black, according to U.S. Census reports. Because the city is about 30 miles from the nearest Publix grocery store – one of the state’s primary vaccination distributors – most of the area’s seniors had little access to the vaccine, according to a report by The Palm Beach Post.
According to The Post, DeSantis was contacted about Pahokee by the state’s lottery secretary, John Davis, another former Pahokee football standout who had been talking with Boldin.
‘John came to me and said, ‘Is there any way we can make it happen?” DeSantis said, according to The Post. ‘I’m like, ‘We need to make it happen.”
The state’s Division of Emergency Management, Mills wrote, set up a state vaccination site at the historically black Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. The state has also teamed with 51 churches and recreation centers to get vaccines into the arms of people in underserved communities.
DeSantis now sits as one of the most popular governors in the country, enjoying a 58 percent approval rating, according to Morning Consult.
Another survey from GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio reported by Politico shows DeSantis as the most popular Republican in Florida, beating the state’s Republican senators in a hypothetical presidential primary match-up with 62 percent compared to 12 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio and 10 percent for Sen. Rick Scott.