Topic: Media Research Center
A couple months back, when Florida had relatively low coronavirus infection and death rates, the Media Research Center was a huge fan of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. In a May 22 post, for instance, P.J. Gladnick proclaimed that DeSantis "took measures that resulted in a not only a flattening of the coronavirus cases curve but a general decline despite his state having a large elderly population" and touted how he "unleashed on the media for their absurdly unfair coverage as you can see."
In that same post, Gladnick attacked Rebekah Jones, who claimed she was fired as a Florida state employee for refusing to artifically lower coronavirus numbers on a state dashboard website, as "disgruntled" and "discredited" and someone who was "fired for poor performance." He cited a right-wing website parroting the DeSantis administration's claim that Jones was fired for "insubordination" and accusing her of having an "extensive criminal history."
The next day, Alex Christy similarly praised DeSantis, touting how "Florida's coronavirus numbers have done better than expected," then bashed CNN for having Jones on as a guest, echoing the DeSantis camp's assertion that her claims have been "debunked" and the personal attack on her by referencing "her open cyberstalking and cyber sexual harassment cases."
On May 25, Kristine Marsh groused: "It doesn’t seem that the media has learned anything after they completely mangled their predictions that red states like Florida and Georgia would see catastrophic consequences for opening up early. On MSNBC this afternoon, “conservative” analyst Rick Tyler was ready to make more hyperbolic predictions about red states getting “hit hard” by the coronavirus in coming months.
But that's exactly what happened in Florida -- the state is a burgeoning epicenter of coronavirus cases. (Don't expect Marsh to apologize; that's not what the MRC does.) The MRC has gone into defense mode for DeSantis. When a CNN host criticized DeSantis aand pointed out how Florida numbners are growing while New York numbers are decreasing, Duncan Schroeder used a June 25 post to throw some misleading numbers around:
This was a preposterous comparison, as New York has far more coronavirus deaths than Florida. New York has the most COVID deaths of any state at 30,934 deaths, while Florida has 3,172 deaths. Furthermore, New York has had over three times as many total cases as Florida, at 393,257 cases to 100,209 cases. Per a thousand people, New York has had 159 deaths, while Florida has only had 15.
[CNN analyst Juliette] Kayyem’s attack on DeSantis and Trump for wanting to reopen the economy is absurd. How dare they want people to be able to go out, support local businesses, work, and make a living! Would she rather the 46 million Americans who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus remain unemployed?
Michael Dellanno made basically the same argument on June 30:
On Saturday, MSNBC’s AM Joy, host Joy Reid created a platform dedicated to vicious attacks against Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis’s handling of coronavirus, as well as other GOP governors’ reopening approaches. The panelists maliciously went after the Florida governor, even going as far as giving him the nickname, ‘Governor Disastrous,’ all while completely giving a pass on Democratic governors mishandling of the pandemic. ... [N]o state should be compared to New York, not a single state will nearly be as bad as the Democrat run state of New York.
Schroeder attacked "good Democrat" Kayyem once again in a July 7 post for having "spouted venom at Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis,"talking down the entire threat of coronavirus to protect the governor:
If Kayyem wanted to provide actual data about a Republican run state, she could have mentioned that the death rate has declined nationally by 76% over the last 10 weeks. Or that over half the deaths in the majority of states are not related to children but are in nursing homes, which is .6 of America’s total population. She could have mentioned that the overall death rate from COVID is 0.26 percent and that the CDC says that school age children almost never die from COVID or even need to be hospitalized. Or that asymptomatic spread of the virus is very rare.
That fit of number-slinging would seem to make Schroeder a good Trump and DeSantis Republican.
Schroeder complained on July 11 that DeSantis was criticized again, huffing the commentators ignored "the fact that the majority of the leading states in cases and deaths are run by Democrats.
Adam Burnett joined in pushing the New York whataboutism angle in a July 13 post: "While it is true that Florida edges out other states for the most in the country, the death rate per 100k people pales in comparison to the media’s favorite state to praise for coronavirus handling, New York. Florida currently has 19.7 deaths per 100k, New York has 78.4 per 100k. But the media will never call out Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo like they do Governor DeSantis, since reporters are so deep in the tank for the Democratic Party. "
Burnett also lectured: "It must be easy to be part of the left-wing media machine. Aside from writing or talking, all you have to do is cherry pick your information and then blast out a partisan narrative to your audience that exclusively aides [sic] Democrats." He didn't describe how easy it was to be a right-wing "media researcher" who cherry-picks information and then blasts out a partisan narrative to his audience.