Do we all remember? this piece in Political titled “How Did DeSantis Win the Pandemic?”
Ron DeSantis wants you to know how well he has done.
“We’ve had tremendous success,” the Republican Governor of Florida said recently at a vaccination site in Sumterville, in the central part of the state, when I caught up with him while reporting for this week’s issue. Cover of POLITICO Magazine Friday, which we post early for late night readers.
“Really good numbers,” he said in front of the pharmacy in the back of a Jacksonville Walgreens.
Sure, it’s covered a bit later:
Democrats across the state say this “victory lap” is not only unseemly but premature. They may be right. This past year, after all, has been heartbreaking. About 2 million Floridians have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 32,000 have died. Disbursement of unemployment benefits has been meager and uneven. The launch of the vaccine has been marked by stories of long waits, reluctant websites, and numerous charges of socioeconomic inequality and political favoritism. And the pandemic, of course, is not over. Sinister variants lurk.
But after 12 months of being ridiculed as a reckless executive driven more by ideology than science, haunted by images of crowded beaches and bars, and ridiculed as “DuhSantis,” “DeathSantis,” and “DeSatan,” Florida hasn’t. had worse luck, and in some respects better than many other states, including their peers from the big states.
But the caution didn’t stop the headline from flying across the country, positively contrasting Florida’s supposedly successful laissez-faire approach to more cautious efforts in bluer states. In California, an impeachment effort is underway against Governor Gavin Newsom, fueled in part by conservative fury that the state failed to adopt a more Florida-style response to the pandemic.
But now, just a few months later, who could have predicted?
1 in 5 new COVID cases last week came from Florida, says a health official
Four states accounted for 40% of new cases last week, and one in five came from Florida.
The other states with the highest number of new cases were Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada.
Of course, it was not difficult to predict.
I have argued here before that framing failures in traditional media are now far less important than misinformation sold on social media. The fact that the Top Facebook posts consistently come from right-wing disinformation channels. matters much more for public policy than if Political says something silly and irresponsible. Biden reiterated the point yesterday, much to the dismay of the right wing’s own disinformation gang and its facilitators on Facebook.
But mainstream media still establish narratives among more informed members of the electorate. How many times do reporters have to be fooled with right-wing narratives too good to be true before a greater degree of skepticism begins to establish itself?
People’s lives are at stake. Republican elected officials and Fox News anchors are not going to tell their voters and audiences the truth about the risks of this virus, putting not only them but the rest of the world in danger of further transmission and more variants. . They are willing to have their own supporters killed out of cowardice and for a marginal short-term political advantage.
The last thing responsible journalists should do is help them.