Even though Florida current leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases, the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has spent more time appearing on and communicating with Fox News than he has with the state’s public health official, according to emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
The communications — which total 1.250 pages — reveal that both Fox and DeSantis were trying to boost his image nationally in an apparent attempt to make him the presumptive frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination:
From the week of the 2020 election through February, the network asked DeSantis to appear on its airwaves 113 times, or nearly once a day. Sometimes, the requests came in bunches — four, five, even six emails in a matter of hours from producers who punctuated their overtures with flattery. (“The governor spoke wonderfully at CPAC,” one producer wrote in March.)
There are few surprises when DeSantis goes live with Fox. “Exclusive” events like Jan. 22 are carefully crafted with guidance from DeSantis’ team. Topics, talking points and even graphics are shared in advance.
Once, a Fox producer offered to let DeSantis pick the subject matter if he agreed to come on.
At the moment, Florida is experiencing an average of nearly 22,000 new COVID cases each day and 153 deaths over every 24-hour period.
Other breakdowns of DeSantis’ preference for appearing on Fox instead of trying to get the pandemic under control in his state also display a staggering level of self-absorption and utter disdain for the suffering of others:
In the first six months of 2021, DeSantis had scheduled as many appearances with top Fox hosts Hannity (8 times), Tucker Carlson (6) and Laura Ingraham (7) as he had meetings with his lieutenant governor, Jeanette Nuñez (7), according to his public calendar.
Meanwhile, the governor has not met one-on-one this year with Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, the state’s top public health official, his schedules show.
While DeSantis and his cheerleaders at Fox may be trying to put him at the top of the 2024 presidential contender list, the Florida governor is facing an uncertain reelection effort next year, with polls showing him vulnerable as the COVID totals continue to skyrocket in the state and DeSantis boasts about how he will punish any town in the state that mandates protective masks.
Just as former President Donald Trump learned in 2020, a public health crisis can derail a reelection effort quicker than just about anything. And if Ron DeSantis fails to learn from his political idol, he too may wind up going down in history as a failed, one-termer.
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