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Friday, November 24, 2023
MRC's DeSantis Defense Brigade Watch, September Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's DeSantis Defense Brigade stayed on sentinel duty to defend its favorite Republican presidential candidate (who isn't named Donald Trump) as September rolled around. You didn't hear about his campaign harassing a 15-year-old boy for asking substantive questions of the candidate, or that this campaign is kind of a mess financially, or that Florida law enforcement officials dispute a talking point about reduced crime in the stat the DeSantis has been spouting on the campaign trail. Instead, Clay Waters complained in a Sept. 11 post:

The New York Times ran its latest anti-DeSantis political hit job Saturday, “As His State Reels, DeSantis Shrugs Off Climate Threat,” by Nicholas Nehamas and Patricia Mazzei. Both have strong anti-DeSantis credentials borne out by their previous reporting. One could ask "News story or Democrat advertisement?" 

The Times tried to discredit DeSantis from another angle, this time his handling of environmental issues, accusing him of shedding a green mantle that he never really put on in the first place:


This newspaper always paints its own ideological opinion as Science -- "decades of scientific research" and "what climate scientists say" vs. the Republicans.

Waters didn't prove how DeSantis or any other Republican has the correct "ideological opinion" on climate change.

Kevin Tober spent a Sept. 13 post defending an interivew DeSantis did with a non-right-wing outlet:

On Wednesday night, CBS Evening News aired part two of anchor Norah O’Donnell’s sit-down interview with Florida Republican governor and 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis. The interview went so poorly for O’Donnell that she was forced to leave most of it on the cutting room floor and hide it on CBS’s website where most people would never see it. 

The part of the interview that did make it to air was O’Donnell pestering and nagging DeSantis about his state’s 15-week abortion law. “There is new data out that the number of abortions in Florida has actually increased, and increased since Dobbs,” O’Donnell touted. “For those who oppose abortion rights, is it time to enact a national ban on abortion?”

DeSantis explained that “the issue with Florida is that the southeastern states have very, very strong pro-life laws. Florida is litigating under a 15-week, and so we have become, against our wishes, a destination.”


Before the governor could finish answering her question, O’Donnell rudely interrupted like a petulant child. 

“Why won't you answer that question? She asked. 

DeSantis responded: “What do you mean?” 

“About why you would support a federal ban,” O’Donnell shot back. 

DeSantis responded: “I support pro-life policies. I will be a pro-life President. But at the same time, I got to chart the course and be honest with people about, okay, how do you advance the ball like we did in Florida. And the way you do that is really bottom-up.”

When DeSantis felt the need to set up a debate with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the MRC defended that too, with Alex Christy doing his duty in a Sept. 26 post:

CNN Primetime host Abby Phillip assembled a group of nominal and former Republicans on Monday’s show to discuss the state of the Republican primary and the news that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom have agreed to debate each other on November 30. That the nation’s foremost conservative and liberal governors will debate each other is hilarious to CNN and speaks badly of DeSantis.

Phillip simply asked, “Ron DeSantis is going to debate Gavin Newsom. Why?”

Amid laughter from the panel, Sophia Nelson, formerly of the Lincoln Project, could be heard exclaiming, “Yeah, ew.”

The DeSantis-Newsom debate isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Sens. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders once debated each other on CNN.

Christy went on to insist that DeSantis' floundering presidential campaign has no effect on his record in Florida:

[Commentator Shermichael] Singleton then went on to claim DeSantis has a tough time connecting with voters, but before he could talk about DeSantis’s actual policies, Navarro interrupted to add, “Mickey Mouse and my drag queen friends persevered and his candidacy is dead on arrival.”

Whether DeSantis's presidential campaign ends with success or not, the fact is he won re-election by almost 20 points by taking on various liberal culture war issues from gender ideology to sexual orientation lessons for elementary students.

Christy returned for a  Sept. 30 post on an interview DeSantis did with Bill Maher, which he pretended wasn't as friendly as it actually was:

With the writers’ strike over, the late night comedy shows are back and first out of the gate on Friday was HBO Real Time host Bill Maher, who chose Florida Governor and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis to be his first guest. The interview was typical Maher as the two teamed up to mock the New York Times, but Maher’s liberal atheism still came through as the two also battled on election integrity laws and abortion.

Maher recalled how “I saw the New York Times did such a despicable hit piece on you, that I saw, because I forget what the lead headline was but it was basically, ‘Ron DeSantis fucked up the pandemic.’ And then, like, at the very end it says 'Florida's death rate, overall, was better than the national average.' Now, if you're going to do an article-- if you're going to do an article about Florida and the pandemic, shouldn't that be the lead? Shouldn’t that be the-- talk about burying the lead.”

Of course, it should be the lead. As for DeSantis, he took the opportunity to tout his record:


Shortly after, Maher changed topics to some of DeSantis’s election reforms and was not sure the amount of effort put into passing the laws line up with the scale of the problem which make it look “like you’re just trying to stop black people from voting.”

After DeSantis called such framing “nonsense,” Maher continued, “I don't think it's nonsense. Black folks don't vote for the Republican Party and very big numbers.”


DeSantis would explain that politics is also about the art of the possible, “Well, no, I mean, it’s a legislative issue, so they have to figure out what they think, and so the legislature identified the moment where there's a detectable heartbeat as the time where there's legal protections. Now, they did provide exceptions for all of the difficult cases that you hear about, but basically once there is a heartbeat, it shouldn't be used as a form of birth control.”

Maher was correct about the New York Times’ depiction of DeSantis’s COVID record. Now, if only he could stop relying on their depictions of other aspects of the Republican agenda.

We've already noted how the MRC cheered a statement DeSantis made at the second Republican presidential debate, as well as defended him from a fact-checker.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:51 PM EST

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