The propaganda wing of the Democrat Party known as the corporate press is used to smearing, pressuring, and shaming Republicans into piping down. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but we’ll never even know how many times it has.
Got a bill in the works about keeping men out of girls’ sports? Be a shame if the media slandered you as a transphobe while corporate interests put pressure on your campaign coffers. Think you can trust your own eyes more than Anthony Fauci on Covid? It’d be too bad if you got fact-checked and deplatformed.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t the only Republican who’s put up a good defense against media bullies, but he has made a brand out of going on the offensive against them. Here are eight lessons that others in the GOP (and all Americans) can learn from him about schooling the propagandists in the corporate press.
1. Acknowledge the Press Has a Narrative
In May 2020, when the Covid-panicked media’s predictions about Florida’s Covid response were already being proven wrong, DeSantis didn’t just call out their lies, he pointed to their motivation for lying.
“Our data is available, our data is transparent. … So, any insinuation otherwise is just typical, partisan narrative trying to be spun,” DeSantis told reporters. “We’ve succeeded and I think that people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption. So, they’ve got to try and find a boogeyman.”
2. Don’t Call Media ‘Mainstream,’ Call Them What They Are
The more partisan the big names in media like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and their ilk become, the more inaccurate it is to call them “mainstream.” Call them the corporate media, the propaganda press, legacy media, or use DeSantis’ nickname for them: “smear merchants.”
3. You Catch More Flies With Wit than Boring Press Releases
DeSantis took notes from former President Donald Trump’s penchant for cutting through forgettable politician-speak and leaning into one-liners and comebacks. A witty line will help people remember what you said, and that’s not limited to media interactions.
Just look at the cheeky memo DeSantis put out Tuesday recognizing Emma Weyant, who placed directly behind male swimmer Lia Thomas, as the rightful winner of the NCAA 500-yard freestyle. It’s far more memorable — and therefore, effective — than a whiny, boring press release. Well-placed snark cuts through the cloud of media lies and signals that you won’t play their game.
4. Don’t Take the Bait to Fight Your Friends Harder than Your Enemies
The corporate media loves it when Republicans go after each other, whether it’s NeverTrumpers piling on criticism of the former president, neocons smearing conservatives who want to avoid war as Putin-lovers, or National Review going after Sen. Josh Hawley for questioning a Supreme Court nominee’s soft-on-sex-crimes record. DeSantis showed he can see through that game, and more Republicans should too.
One podcaster asked DeSantis about the media’s “trying to drive a wedge between you and one of your constituents here in Florida, former President Trump. Is there any sort of animosity? What’s that relationship like?”
“This is what the media does and you can not fall for the bait. You know what they’re trying to do. So don’t take it,” the governor responded. Emphasizing the need for GOP unity, he added “We need everyone on board.”
5. Don’t Be Cowed by Ad Hominem Attacks
Last April, CBS’s “60 Minutes” ginned up a fake scandal about DeSantis, smearing him for using the ubiquitous Florida grocery store Publix to help distribute Covid vaccines. Instead of being intimidated by the smear, DeSantis hit back. “When you’re talking about this ridiculous smear narrative, it’s important to break down just how false, how thoroughly dishonest it is. Because this is bad for our country — to have big corporate media smearing for profit just because I’m in the other party than them, and using their partisanship to craft narratives, regardless of the facts.”
In August, when the Associated Press cooked up a similar conspiracy theory, DeSantis had a similar response. “The AP’s attempt to create a political narrative has backfired, as the conspiracy theory has been easily debunked and the credibility of your organization has been further diminished,” he shot back.
6. Quit Trying to Make the Corrupt Media Like You
If the corrupt press will make up scandals about you, they’re not going to be your BFF. “Stop trying to grovel in front of [corporate media outlets], stop thinking that they’re going to like you,” DeSantis advised his fellow Republicans, in an exclusive interview with The Federalist in June. Too many Republicans in D.C. are “lovable losers” who “let the corporate media define the narrative,” he added. “It’s like trying to fight your way out of a wet paper bag. You have to reject these narratives.”
7. Don’t Waste Energy on Issues The Press Says Matter That Actually Don’t
The corporate media and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sham committee love to talk about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, because it’s one of the few talking points that doesn’t make them look terrible. Republicans shouldn’t let themselves be sucked into wasting airtime tongue-wagging about an issue that most normal Americans are ready to stop talking about.
When asked about Jan. 6 on the event’s one-year anniversary, DeSantis predicted the commemorations from Democrats and their media allies were “going to end up being a politicized Charlie Foxtrot today.”
“There is an obsession with this amongst the D.C., New York journalist class and again I think it’s because it allows them to spin a narrative that they want to spin,” he added, and took the opportunity to pivot to issues more relevant to voters. “People here in Florida, they care about inflation and they care about gas prices and education and crime.”
8. Just Stop Trusting The Corrupt Press, for Pete’s Sake
From fawning over disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to saying Joe Biden would be an “adult in the room” about foreign policy to insisting Hunter Biden’s laptop was a Russian plant, the corporate press has been pants-on-fire wrong time and time again. They’ve lost all credibility and Republicans should stop lending it to them.
“The message is for people out there is unless you’re a partisan leftist, do not trust corporate media,” DeSantis said in June. “Can’t trust them, they’re not trustworthy. They will lie.”