If conservatives learned anything from the Donald Trump presidency, it was that fighting back pays off.
Former President Trump fought back against liberal activists disguised as journalists in the White House press corps, he fought back against the liberal Hollywood entertainment complex and he fought back especially hard with the monolithic institutions of the establishment media.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is proving he learned that lesson well — particularly after the CBS program “60 Minutes” staged a nationally televised smear job on him on Sunday.
In the segment, which tried to blast Florida’s coronavirus vaccination program based on apparently isolated problems — no state in the country has had a perfect vaccination experience — “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi essentially accused DeSantis of running a “pay to play” operation by putting the Florida-based Publix Super Markets grocery store chain in charge of vaccination distribution.
DeSantis, of course, is no shrinking violet when it comes to defending himself. And, it showed Tuesday on a visit to Panama City, in the Florida Panhandle. In response to a question at the tail end of a news conference, DeSantis lashed out at “60 Minutes” and the “smear merchants” of the establishment media as a whole.
“They cut out everything that showed their narrative was a piece of horse manure,” he said, drawing laughter from a crowd that knew he had a stronger word than “manure” in mind.
“It shows you how dishonest — these are smear merchants — that’s why nobody trusts corporate media. They are a disaster in what they’re doing.
“They knew what they were doing was a lie. I knew what they were doing was a lie. Everybody here knows what they were doing is a lie.”
Check it out here:
— Christina Pushaw is on #TeamReality (@ChristinaPushaw) April 6, 2021
Virtually since it aired, the segment has been drawing fire even from places liberals would least expect it — like the self-described “progressive” and former Democratic state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, now the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, and Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner.
In a nutshell, Alfonsi’s segment implied DeSantis had chosen Publix for the vaccination program in return for campaign contributions.
In a Twitter post, Moskowitz, who will be stepping down from his post at the end of April, called the contention “absolute malarkey.”
@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by @FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governors office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey. https://t.co/obkqYcbrzt
— Jared MASKowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) April 4, 2021
“I watched the 60 Minutes segment on Palm Beach County last night and feel compelled to issue this statement. The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false. I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and 60 Minutes declined,” Kerner said.
“They know that the Governor came to Palm Beach County and met with me and the County Administrator and we asked to expand the state’s partnership with Publix to Palm Beach County. We also discussed our own local plans to expand mass vaccinations centers throughout the county, which the Governor has been incredibly supportive.
“We asked and he delivered. They had that information, and they left it out because it kneecaps their narrative.”
As the editors of National Review pointed out in an editorial on Monday, Publix is the largest supermarket chain in Florida, and the majority of its stores are equipped with pharmacies.
It’s also an equal-opportunity political donor, with a history of giving money to the liberal Urban League and Democratic candidates, according to the editorial.
But given its ubiquity in Florida and its stores’ pharmaceutical capabilities “it would have been surprising if Publix had not been one of the major players in the state’s effort,” the editorial noted.
Heck, even CNN acknowledged the “60 Minutes” point was paper-thin.
“But, beyond spotlighting the public finance records, ’60 Minutes’ never offered any substantive evidence to support the significant assertion and link the donation with the partnership,” senior media reporter Oliver Darcy wrote.
So, DeSantis is getting plenty of help, but his own words are making the biggest impression.
And the man who came in second to Trump in a straw poll for president at the February Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, was getting plenty of fans on social media Tuesday.
FIGHT BACK https://t.co/9RXDF23Vo5
— Barrington Martin II (@_BarringtonII) April 6, 2021
.@GovRonDeSantis: “The message is… unless you’re a partisan leftist, do not trust corporate media. You can’t trust them. They’re not trustworthy. They will lie. They will smear and they just move on to the next target and think that they’re going to be able to get away with it” pic.twitter.com/hwZqA5Pm8P
— Jennifer Cabrera ? #ForgetYourMask (@jhaskinscabrera) April 6, 2021
I fly my Florida Flag for him! A great leader! pic.twitter.com/Pz5G8IblPL
— Eric in Florida (@EricinFL89) April 6, 2021
Love it. Wasn’t it Obama who advised his people to “punch back twice as hard”?
Punch back twice as hard, @GovRonDeSantis!
— Amy (@AmyA1A) April 6, 2021
DeSantis is punching back, all right.
“I know corporate media thinks that they can just run over people — you ain’t running over this governor,” he told the Panama City crowd.
“I’m punching back, and I’m going to continue to do it until these smear merchants are held accountable.”
Any honest person who watches the establishment media can relate to what DeSantis is saying. Even liberals who can speak and read English have to understand how skewed and biased mainstream media coverage is.
Any person who’s even halfway followed the news knows that DeSantis has handled the coronavirus pandemic successfully — far more successfully than the liberal bastions of New York, California or Michigan, where authoritarian governors shut down their states economies’ and schools while still failing dismally to control infection and death rates.
And any observer of American politics knows that DeSantis is making his presence felt in a way that could well translate into a national following in 2024 if the GOP presidential nomination appears to be an open race.
Liberals know that too, which is one reason the establishment media is so determined to smear DeSantis now.
Fortunately, DeSantis isn’t shy about punching back. And he isn’t shy about proving it.
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