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Thursday, July 13, 2023
MRC's DeSantis Defense Brigade Went Into Cleanup Mode After Botched Twitter Launch
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center all day on May 24, the day Ron DeSantis officially announced his presidential campaign on Twitter, in full DeSantis Defense Brigade mode, despite the fact that there was little that actually needed to be defended. But the launch turned out to be a mess -- the Twitter Spaces server that was to host it crashed repeatedly, and DeSantis gave served up rote right-wing talking points instead of having any sort of real conversation with voters. Which means the MRC had to seriously spin the disaster away the next day. First up was Alex Christy, who complained that DeSantis was fact-checked, first serving up the Soviet-esque claim that teachers are teaching critical race theory even if they don't know they are:

How many PolitiFact fact-checkers does it take to fact-check a presidential announcement? Apparently four, as that is how many reporters it took to assess seven statements from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Wednesday campaign launch on Twitter Spaces.

The first claim the intrepid quartet checked was “We eliminated critical race theory from our K through 12 schools.”

PolitiFact responded by claiming Critical Race Theory is a non-controversy, “University of Missouri education professor LaGarrett King previously told us that the problem is blown out of proportion. ‘The majority of teachers are not even familiar with what critical race theory is, nor do they teach it in their classrooms,’ King said.”

That doesn’t debunk DeSantis at all. It doesn’t matter if the majority of teachers are unfamiliar with CRT, because that ignores that one does not need to use the literal words “Critical Race Theory” to teach its worldview and that there is more to schools than what goes on in classroom, such as teacher trainings.

Christy then baselessly ranted that anyone in themilitary who defends President Biden's miliary policies is by definition "Democratic" and that "wokeness" is a barrier to recruitment despite the fact that nobody can actually identify anyone dissuaded from joining because it was too "woke":

In non-education policy, DeSantis argued “Biden’s politicized the military and caused recruiting to plummet.”

Fact-checkers have used Democratic service secretaries to fact-check Republicans on military matters before, but PolitiFact did it again, citing Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, “wokeness in the military or the COVID vaccine mandate, for example, those were relatively low on the list of barriers to service.”

A low barrier is still a barrier.

Curtis Houck grumbled that the eminently newsworthy failures at DeSantis' launch were treated as news by news organizations:

On Thursday morning, the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC were ebullient at the initial technical failures of Twitter Spaces for Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) 2024 presidential campaign announcement, seeking to kill DeSantis’s campaign and clear the GOP field. 

Over five different segments, they barely touched on what DeSantis said and instead reveled in the “mess” that was “roundly mocked” and was a sign of “rough...waters” for his campaign against Donald Trump, who “[had] a field day.”

NBC’s Today was brutal. Co-host Hoda Kotb bragged in a tease of a “[r]ough rollout,” “troubled launch,” and “chaotic start to the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign, marred by technical glitches on Twitter.”

She added ahead of the first report that the server issues with Twitter left “the campaign scrambling on day one.”


Over on the Disney-owned ABC, there was never any doubt as to whetherGood Morning America would join in. 

After co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos described the launch as “marred” and “riddled with technical difficulties,” chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl conceded DeSantis is “the most formidable Republican challenger to Donald Trump” with some “advantages.”

Aside from that, it was more of the same.


Socialist CBS Mornings co-host Tony Dokoupil came with jokes: “[I]t was billed as a great American comeback, those are the words of Ron DeSantis and you could set your clock by it, but you could not set your clock by that Twitter event.”

Note that Houck did not criticize Musk for the botched launch, though it was arguably his fault that Twitter was not robust enough to handle the launch's traffic. (Houck has irrelevantly decided that Dokoupil is a "socialist" solely because he did a news report a few years back on income inequality. Really. That's it.)

Houck also didn't disclose his personal interest in DeSantis' candidacy. The day before the launch, he gushed about it on his Twitteraccount: "Great move making the announcement with @ElonMusk. Heads on all sides will explode." he also took place in a launch-related event the day of the announcement, which he also touted: "The great folks at @FLVoiceNews (led by @BrendonLeslie) are doing a Twitter Spaces after @RonDeSantis's 2024 announcement with @ElonMusk. I'll be joining the action -- lots to discuss!"

Kevin Tober was also on cleanup patrol -- this time for his fellow right-wing writers as well as DeSantis:

On Wednesday, Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis made his long-awaited presidential campaign announcement during a Twitter space with Elon Musk followed by numerous appearances on cable news and radio. Later on Wednesday evening, DeSantis held a call with members of conservative media where they asked the governor questions about how he’ll beat Donald Trump and what he’ll do if he’s elected President. 

The call which was helpfully transcribed by Mediaite showed leftwing propagandists like The View’s Alyssa Farah Griffinand Puck News’s Tara Palmeri were wrong about DeSantis hiding from the press or simply only speaking to “friendly press” since the call with conservative reporters frequently challenged the governor on a wide range of issues. 

DeSantis kicked off the call by addressing the elephant in the room which was the Twitter space that crashed a few times during his announcement event with Musk: “We are at a internet-breaking start with Elon Musk. You know, he offered me the ability to do either a SpaceX rocket or Twitter. I just figured Twitter would be safer. Turns out that we had too many people that tried to join. So in some respects, you know, that’s a that’s a good sign.”

Despite not citing any actual challenging questions -- in fact, most were softballs and not very probing at all -- Tober insisted this was somehow a victory for right=wing media:

This call shows that conservative media by and large can be trusted to hold their own side’s feet to the fire and ask probing questions. 

That’s not something you see from reporters on the left who simply give their favorite candidates and politicians a foot massage.

Only in Tober's right-wing bubble can Farah Griffin -- whom the MRC irrationally hates -- be considered a "leftwing propagandist." And the fact remains that DeSantis refused to talk to anyone who wasn't from a right-wing media outlet, which that he is, in fact, afraid to venture beyond a "friendly press."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:20 PM EDT

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