The MRC's DeSantis Defense Brigade: Pudding Patrol
There is apparently no accusation so minor that the Media Research Center won't defend Ron DeSantis against -- even a claim that he eats pudding with his fingers.
By Terry Krepel
The Daily Beast offered a reminder Thursday of how there’s no bottom to their juvenile but slimy reporting as reporters Jake Lahut and former conservative-turned-real-life-Randall Zachary Petrizzo offered an audition for the grocery store tabloids in “The GOP Campaign Trail Is Already Getting DeSantis-Proofed.” The big scoop? Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) isn’t a social butterfly and allegedly ate a cup of pudding with his fingers.
Houck -- who is acting in a very juvenile and slimy manner in comparing Petrizzo to a character from the cartoon "Recess" -- is very bitter about writers who, unlike him, have escaped the right-wing bubble to produce real journalism instead of partisan hackery and, thus ,feels he must personally insult them (CNN's Oliver Darcy is another target). Still, Houck insisted that the sources with "grievances" were the problem, not himself or DeSantis, accusing one source of "channeling their inner Mean Girl" even though Mean Girl tactics (which ConWebWatch calls Heathering) are a common MRC strategy.
Houck took Pudding-gate into a second day by continuing to whine about it being covered:
The liberal media have been pulling out all the stops with pointless mud-slinging against Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL). On Thursday, the ever-juvenile Daily Beast penned what they thought would be a direct hit against DeSantis's hypothetical 2024 chances by alleging he’s socially awkward and one time used three fingers to get a lick of pudding.
It was Alex Christy's turn to complain that Pudding-gate was being talked about in a March 18 post:
MSNBC’s Joy Reid has discovered another scandal plaguing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday’s edition of The ReidOut. Not only does DeSantis eat pudding with his fingers, he is also short. Meanwhile, the Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson stuck to the classic DeSantis fake scandals as he falsely accused DeSantis of trying to ban books about Rosa Parks and Hank Aaron.
For good measure, Christy defended DeSantis over charges that his attacks on education in Florida led to a book about Hank Aaron being banned:
Nobody’s banning books about Hank Aaron. As for Parks, what Wilson is referring to is a New York Times report about a textbook that was submitted for review. What Wilson didn’t say was the publisher did this because of what they thought was needed in Florida, not what was actually required. Additionally, the Times itself said “It’s unclear which of the new versions was officially submitted for review” and the book was rejected for unrelated, bureaucratic reasons.
Christy returned to DeSantis pudding defense in a May 19 post:
MSNBC's All In host Chris Hayes lamented on Thursday that when people think of authoritarians, they tend to think of people like Stalin or Mussoulini [sic] and not “Mr. Pudding Fingers” because for Hayes, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s education, abortion, Disney, and drag show policies are all hallmarks of “authoritarianism.” However, the worst bit of so-called authoritarianism to come out DeSantis’s Florida is that parents will no longer be able to give their kids “gender-affirming care.”
Christy didn't belabor the pudding point further.
Of course, part of being a member of the DeSantis Defense Brigade is that you are obligated to lash out at any criticism of Ron DeSantis, no matter how minor or throwaway the line is. Tim Graham served up a name-calling whine in a Feb. 28 post huffing that the "leftists" at NPR quoted a Florida student who likened DeSantis to Fidel Castro, then whining further: "This is how the Left puts out misinformation about anyone trying to check leftist activism and propaganda on campus. They want colleges to sound just as one-sided as NPR does. State-run radio is statist to the core."
Tierin-Rose Mandelburg ranted in a March 9 post about another remark directed at DeSantis:
Everyone knows that Ron DeSantis doesn’t support kids reading about sex, gender surgeries or porn in elementary school...celebs need to get over it already.
Mandelburg added: "This chick really just likes insulting people she doesn’t agree with. She needs to get a life." She didn't mention that her employer is eager to go Godwin on people it doesn't like, and is particularly fond of smearing those who fact-check conservatives online or who seek to curb right-wing hate as "digital brownshirts."
Kevin Tober demonstrated in a March 14 post that he couldn't handle a quip critical of DeSantis:
On Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's All In, former Republican turned Lincoln Project activist Stuart Stevens was the latest on MSNBC to reveal how much Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was feared by the left and that every statement he made would be overblown and distorted to take him down. The latest example came when DeSantis dared to respond to a questionnaire issued by Fox News host Tucker Carlson asking current and potential Republican presidential candidates where they stand on America's involvement in Ukraine.
Never mind, of course, that the MRC is not exactly known for nuanced reasoning. Tober also censored the fact that Bolsonaro played the Trump card in baselessly claiming alleged voting machine malfunction as the reason he lost re-election, then fled the country in an apparent bid to avoid blame for his supporters rioting in the Brazilian capital. It's more likely that Bolsonaro was seeking plausible deniability more than he was attracted to Florida's "beautiful weather."
Here are some of the other ways the MRC defended DeSantis in March and April:
A March 17 post by Tober cheered that a reporter was fired for accurately describing the content of a DeSantis press release:
During her latest bout of DeSantis derangement syndrome, MSNBC’s vile and vitriolic ReidOut host Joy Reid brought on disgraced former Axios journalist Ben Montgomery who on Monday was fired for calling a press release from Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s office “propaganda.” To attempt to illustrate her false belief that DeSantis is waging a war on the press, Reid used Montgomery's appearance on her Thursday night show to hold what seemed like a therapy session.
Tober didn't explain how Montgomery's assessment of the DeSantis press release was incorrect in any way.
Christy spent a March 24 post complaining that DeSantis' time as a Navy lawyer at Guantanamo Bay dealing with was brought up:
MSNBC keeps coming up with reasons to oppose a potential presidential campaign by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The latest reason came on Thursday from The 11th Hour guest host Mehdi Hasan and Crooked Media podcaster Juanita Tolliver where they lamented DeSantis’s popularity will likely increase because he “tortured” prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
By dishonestly portraying the DeSantis clip as representative of the Post article, Christy ignored the actual content of the article, in which DeSantis is quoted as an advocate of force-feeding, adding that "He has described the hunger strikes as part of a '“jihad' against the United States, and characterized claims of abuse from detainees and their lawyers as attempts to work the system foreshadowing his conservative views as a lawmaker on issues ranging from constitutional rights to military and criminal justice."
Christy then whined that it was also pointed out how DeSantis is in a right-wing bubble:
Back live, Hasan wondered if DeSantis’s popularity would soon fade, “Juanita, do you think that this part of DeSantis’s record is going to get more attention in the future? I mean, there's so much more that could come out about him, his time in the Navy, his time in Congress, his time before politics, as a teacher. So far he's been cocooned in his safe right-wing space of Florida for so long.”
Not as ridiculous, however, as one of the maintainers of that DeSantis safe space denying that it exists.
Defending DeSantis' war on Disney
The MRC has also been giving DeSantis' partisan war against Disney special attention. Mandelburg did her best DeSantis PR job in an April 18 post:
“Don’t mess with Texas” should change to “don’t ef with Florida.” Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) just cracked down against Disney ... again.
Mandelburg didn't explain why Disney must be punished simply for "objecting" to DeSantis' "don't say gay" law. She went on to huff that "Disney has clearly overstepped and abused its privileges," but she didn't explain why exercising First Amendment rights is suddenly a "privilege" when used to advance views she doesn't like.
The same day, Christy complained that commentators pointed out DeSantis' partisan nastiness:
Occasionally, the cast of MSNBC will view themselves as qualified to opine on what is and is not conservative and Tuesday’s Chris Jansing Reports was one such occasion. Not only did nominal Republican Tara Setmayer declare Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s fight with Disney to be “petulant” and “not conservative,” but also “un-American.”
Christy didn't mention that his MRC colleague thinks free speech is a "privilege." Isn't that un-American?
In yet another April 18 post, Houck grumbled that there was accurate reporting about DeSantis and Disney:
Amid stories meant to inflame racial tensions, the Fox News vs. Dominion Voting Systems case, and rallying to TikTok’s defense over a Montana bill to ban the app, NBC’s Today found time Tuesday to bemoan Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) daring to “doubl[e] down on a fight against an American icon: Mickey Mouse.”
Houck then tried to reframe DeSantis's threat to build a prison next to Disney World: "After pointing out “[t]he clash last year when Disney opposed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law,” Gutierrez bemoaned how DeSantis used an appearance to (jokingly) propose the “developing land next to Disney World” to include a prison." Houck offered no evidence that DeSantis was joking.
That was followed by Christy complaining that others didn't get DeSantis' (unproven) joke:
CBS’s The Late Show host Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show temp host Jordan Klepper condemned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on their Tuesday shows for joking about possibly putting a new state prison next to Disney World and it was unclear if these professional joke tellers knew DeSantis was joking.
Christy regularly ignores the voice, body language, and facial expressions of comedians to declare that their jokes aren't funny, so maybe he's not a very good judge of such things.
Houck returned for an April 19 post whining that someone pointed out DeSantis' weak position against Disney:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe has, in part, been defined by co-host Joe Scarborough’s jealousy for Florida Republicans who had a more successful political career and following than he did.
If Houck thinks Scarborough is jealous of DeSantis' success, does that mean we can claim Houck is jealous of the success of CNN's Oliver Darcy, given how he can't stop maliciously slandering Darcy as a "Benedict Arnold" for the offense of escaping the right-wing bubble?
Acting on behalf of its parental overlords in Ron DeSantis-hating Disney, ABC’s Good Morning America ran a 62-second segment on Thursday trashing the Florida Republican Governor’s Board of Education for having “expanded the Don't Say Gay bill” “critics warn...is dangerous” to the lives of students.
Houck offered no evidence to back up his claim that Disney management is mandating the content of any ABC News report.
Houck used the word "whore" in the headline of an April 27 post to disgustingly smear any news coverage critical of DeSantis:
On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC banded together under the banner of corporate liberalism to rally behind ABC’s parent company/"economic heavy hitter" Disney and even some 2024 GOP presidential candidates against Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for having created a “long-running feud” and “power struggle” for Florida supremacy.
Again, Houck has no evidence of coordination -- he simply assumes that Disney treats ABC like his employer treated CNS. Despite a complete lack of proof, Houck concluded by repeating the slander again, asserting that the "liberal media" was "playing whores for corporate liberalism."
DeSantis must be paying the MRC well for it to so viciously attack and smear anyone who tells the truth about him.