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Tag: desantis covid

DeSantis Reveals Biggest Regret Of Covid Lockdown (Which Will Anger Trump)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has revealed his biggest mistake during the COVID-19 pandemic; a mistake that will likely ruffle former President Donald Trump's feathers.

On Thursday, January 13, the Republican governor appeared on the conservative podcast "Ruthless," where he revealed his biggest regrets while governing during the pandemic. DeSantis, a known Trump ally, suggested that he wasn't in favor of the national lockdown that was enforced at the onset of the pandemic, according to CNN.

He recalled the early days of the pandemic and revealed he was actually involved in the White House's pandemic response, offering advice to the former president. Although the pandemic had quickly became a national crisis, DeSantis claims he was relatively shocked when Trump shut down the economy.

"I never thought in February, early March, that [coronavirus] would lead to locking down the country," the Republican governor said on Thursday. "I just didn't. I didn't think that was on the radar."

Per CNN, the Florida governor largely blamed Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and head of the White House coronavirus task force, for advising Trump on shutting the country down.

Fauci along with other public health experts advised the former president, but the story notes that "the decision was Trump's to make, and DeSantis ultimately followed the White House's lead, closing Florida schools, government buildings, gyms, bars, and restaurant dining rooms and advising Floridians to stay home."

DeSantis' latest critical remarks about Trump follow similar comments he made back in November. At the time, DeSantis criticized the travel restrictions that were implemented as part of the pandemic response.

Although he had also supported the decision Trump made at the timie, he again came to believe that was a mistake. "I was probably the first governor in January of 2020 to call for travel restrictions from China. I supported President Trump when he did that," DeSantis said. "But we have to take a step back and acknowledge that those travel restrictions just didn't work."

Article reprinted with permission from Alternet

Florida Mayor Lays Into Desantis For Zero Support Amid Omicron Surge

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the United States, one Florida mayor is slamming Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his failure to offer any support on the latest coronavirus wave.

According to The Orlando Sentinel, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (D) recently expressed concern about the lacking accommodations for COVID testing sites in his area as he announced new COVID mitigation mandates in his area. “We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites,” Demings said. “All Florida residents should be outraged … where is Ron DeSantis now?”At one point during the pandemic, Orange County reportedly had adequate testing sites throughout the county but now that is not the case. Back in June, Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, had announced that the state's testing efforts had been transformed into a "locally-led effort."

“As of today, as a result of the collaboration between the Department of Health in Orange County and the Orange County government, there are no unmet resource requests — from municipalities, hospitals, or private practices,” Khoury said in an email at the time.

Demings' concerns come after the city's recent COVID statistics announcement. On Monday, December 27, Orange County reported a total of 10,000 COVID tests that led to 2,500 new coronavirus infections. However, one silver lining is that the uptick in COVID cases has not led to a surge of hospitalizations in the area.

Dr. Raul Pino, the local state health officer, weighed in on the hospitalizations. “That’s what we don’t know,” Pino said. “We’re suspecting we’re not going to see the high number of hospitalizations with delta, and it’s not going to be as long as Delta in the high part of the wave.”

Article reprinted with permission from Alternet

Why GOP-Friendly Politico Is About To Get Worse

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Is Politico jumping out the frying pan and into the fire?

The influential bible for savvy-obsessed Beltway insiders, Politico already has a strong tendency to disappoint by viewing the world through a Republican prism. Eagerly propping up Dems in Disarray storylines, Politico remains committed to portraying Republicans as being forever shrewd, and stands at the ready to amplify whatever phony outrage the GOP is pushing.

It was Politico that that famously detailed "How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic" this year, after 30,000 Floridians had already died from the virus. Today, the Sunshine State remains a global epicenter of the raging virus. The "won" coverage was part of Politico's larger, and wildly misguided, DeSantis charm offensive:

• "Covid wars launch DeSantis into GOP 'top tier'

• "Ron DeSantis Is Very Pleased With Himself"

"I consistently remind you that Politico is terrible," journalist Soledad O'Brien recently reminded her Twitter followers.

Politico's hallmark, clickbait failures are likely to become more pronounced because the publication was just sold for $1 billion to an openly conservative media giant based in Germany, Axel Springer. Named after the company's founder who has been referred to as Germany's Rupert Murdoch, all Springer employees must pledge their allegiance to the company's "Essentials":

1. We stand up for freedom, the rule of law, democracy and a united Europe.
2. We support the Jewish people and the right of existence of the State of Israel.
3. We advocate the transatlantic alliance between the United States of America and Europe.
4. We uphold the principles of a free market economy and its social responsibility.
5. We reject political and religious extremism and all forms of racism and sexual discrimination.

Politico employees will not have to sign the pledge, according to the New York Times. Still, they will understand what the clear political leanings of their German owners are and that they demand fealty, which could lead American journalists to pander to their bosses. (News reporters signing any kind of worldview "pledge" is a bad idea.)

In a strange, collective oversight though, virtually none of the mainstream media coverage about the blockbuster, $1 billion deal has mentioned the proud conservative preferences of Politico's new owner. That salient fact regarding the purchase of a powerful political media outlet in Washington, D.C., has been conveniently ignored. Reuters, CNN, CNBC, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal all covered the Politico sale without mentioning the buyer's politics.

If an unabashedly liberal, international publisher that demanded its employees sign an oath supporting socialism had swooped in to buy a mainstay of American political journalism, do you think its partisan DNA would be mentioned in the news coverage? I certainly do. In fact, it would be mentioned in every headline.

The deafening media silence is curious since over the years Axel Springer's rightward lurch has not been a secret. Two years ago, The Guardian profiled the "German company founded in 1945 by the rightwing publisher of the same name." When the founder died back in 1985 the Los Angeles Times was straightforward. "Axel Springer, Conservative W. German Publisher, Dies," read the headline. The Times noted that all of Springer's media properties "served as staunch supporters of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative Christian Democratic Union."

As The Tablet observed recently, "Springer was the closest thing that the Germans had to a Rupert Murdoch. Springer's politics were decidedly conservative: capitalist (though comfortable with the German consensus on a "social market economy"); traditionalist; ferociously anti-communist, and pro-American. And much as Murdoch has come to embody everything that bien pensant liberals loathe, Springer was hated by the West German left."

In 1952, Springer founded Bild, a national tabloid daily that soon became the most-read newspaper in Europe, with a circulation that peaked at 6 million. Der Spiegel once characterized the paper as "serv[ing] up tripe, trash, tits and, almost as an afterthought, a healthy dose of hard news seven days a week." It added that Bild, "has taken on the role of a right-wing populist party, which does not yet exist in Germany."

Over the years "Bild decried long hair on men and the marriage of its top models to foreigners. It genuflected before South African apartheid, Greek dictatorship, Bavarian sedans and American Pershing missiles," The Guardian noted. Today, "Bild'smain attack targets remain Germany's "Gutmenschen" – the do-gooders, vegetarians, Greens and 1968ers who are treated as parasites and irritants to Germany's robust economy and middle class."

Added the Columbia Journalism Review, "Some aspects of Bild's conservatism would be familiar to any weary observer of the US culture wars."

The daily recently launched its own TV station, which the Irish Times dubbed "a milder, German equivalent of Fox News."

That's who now owns Politico, which is only going to get worse.

New York Times Puffs DeSantis — And Blisters Biden

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Within the span of 24 hours, the New York Times provided more evidence that the paper treats the two political parties differently, especially when it comes to Democratic and Republican leaders facing crisis. In this case, it's President Joe Biden grappling with the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, versus Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state became a global epicenter for Covid this summer.

The Times showed how it's willing to normalize atrocious behavior by Republicans while holding Democrats to unfair standards.

On Sunday, the paper published a striking whitewash of DeSantis' nearly criminal actions regarding Covid this year. Eying a White House run in 2024, and hoping to tap into the GOP's anti-science base, DeSantis has played politics with public health. He's tried to bar schools from mandating masks, stood in the way of hospital vaccine mandates, and demanded cruise lines allow unvaccinated passengers to set sail. He even placed one million orders of hydroxychloroquine in tribute to Trump. And now the state is paying a steep price for his cavalier governance.

"The viral load in Florida is so high right now, there are only two places on the planet where it's higher," Dr. Jonathan Reiner recently told CNN. "It's so high in Florida that I think that if Florida were another country, we would have to consider banning travel from Florida to the United States."

Yet reading the Times' Sunday article you'd think DeSantis, who is referenced just four times in the lengthy piece, was a bit player in this man-made drama. You'd think the Sunshine State's descent into mass Covid death was some kind of unavoidable, twist of fate. "Exactly why the state has been so hard-hit remains an elusive question," the Times reported, naively throwing up its hands.

The daily also engaged in misinformation when it claimed Florida under DeSantis "emphasized vaccinations" and "made a strong push" to innoculate people. "Florida State Representative, here. This is ridiculous," tweeted Democrat Omarji Hardy, responding to the Times. "There was not anything resembling a "strong push" for vaccinations in Florida."

The Times piece didn't bother quoting a single DeSantis critic, even though just days earlier Miami Mayor Dan Gelber had announced unequivocally that DeSantis' policies "are literally killing people."

Compare that brand of kid-glove analysis to the Times page-one piece by White House correspondent Peter Baker on Saturday, who suggested the Afghanistan troop withdrawal was entirely Biden's doing, the president used questionable judgement, and Biden's responsible for U.S. loss of life.

Unlike the DeSantis piece, the Time's Biden article was overflowing with quotes from his critics, eager to second guess. In fact, the first person Baker quoted was someone who worked on President George W. Bush's Iraq War team; the war that doomed U.S. to failure in Afghanistan. One week earlier, Baker had been on the front page with another Afghanistan piece, implying Biden was incompetent and lacked empathy, two descriptions the paper won't apply to DeSantis.

Over this weekend, the Times also published a nasty opinion piece, which called the evacuation of 120,000 people from the Kabul airport "incompetent," and suggested Biden, whose late son served in the Iraq War, does not "value" men and women who serve our country.

The Times POV couldn't be clearer: DeSantis is trying his best, Biden's in over his head.

The Times' Sunday DeSantis whitewash, which was widely criticized online, represents a larger pattern by the newspaper to run interference for the Republican governor this year. Three weeks ago, the Times again tried to normalize DeSantis' dangerous behavior, suggesting that outlawing mask mandates and threatening to withhold pay from teachers during a pandemic might be the new normal [emphasis added]:

If, however, Florida comes through another virus peak with both its hospital system and economy intact, Mr. DeSantis's game of chicken with the deadly pandemic could become a model for how to coexist with a virus that is unlikely to ever fully vanish.

Amazing — if DeSantis' policies don't obliterate Florida's healthcare system and its economy, then maybe he's creating a new model. That Times article also failed to quote a single DeSantis critic, in a look at how the controversial Republican was managing the pandemic.

The newspaper actually began covering for DeSantis back in April when the Times published a front-page valentine, typing up his press office spin about how Florida was "booming" and he had somehow figured out how to carve out a Covid-free region for the Sunshine State. "In a country just coming out of the morose grip of coronavirus lockdowns, Florida feels unmistakably hot," the Times gushed.

All three DeSantis stories were written by the paper's Miami bureau chief Patricia Mazzei. Why would she seemingly go out of her way to provide cover for DeSantis as he eyes a likely presidential run? My guess is it has to do with access and maintaining cordial relations with DeSantis' communications team, which I guarantee was thrilled with the latest Times dispatch from Florida.

If and when DeSantis runs for president, journalists who are covering him now likely want to be assigned to his campaign, which would then serve as their ticket out of Florida. That's how the Beltway media game is played — scores of reporters who covered George W. Bush in Texas were rewarded with campaign assignments and then re-assigned to cover him in Washington, D.C.

Fact: It's not too late for the Times to fix its Florida coverage.

Poll: Floridians In Revolt Against DeSantis Pandemic Failure

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' crusade against masking and other pandemic mitigation efforts isn't playing well for him among Floridians, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The fact that 60 percent of Floridians support in-school masking, according to the poll, is nothing short of an indictment of DeSantis' failing leadership as his state suffers its most deadly period in the pandemic.

  • By 61 percent to 33 percent, Floridians say the recent spike in COVID-19 cases was preventable
  • 73 percent of Floridians currently view the surge as a serious problem
  • 59 percent say the pandemic's spread is out of control in the state

The public also broadly disagrees with the policies DeSantis has been pushing for months—policies that endanger their lives, including those of their children.

  • 68 percent say local officials should be able to require masks in indoor public spaces
  • 69 percent say it's a bad idea to withhold pay for school officials who vote to require masking (which the DeSantis administration is currently in the process of doing), while just 25 percent support it
  • 59 percent support requiring everyone to wear masks while in indoor public spaces
  • 63 percent say masking is primarily a public health issue, with just 33 percent saying it's more about personal freedom
  • 62 percent say health care workers should be required to get vaccinated, just 33 percent oppose it
  • 60 percent favor vaccine mandates for teachers, just 36 percent oppose them

The poll also found that DeSantis was underwater regarding whether residents think he is helping the situation or making it worse.

While 41 percent say that Governor Ron DeSantis is helping efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Florida, 46 percent say he is hurting efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Twelve percent did not offer an opinion.

DeSantis picked a fight on masking—choosing to champion the fringe 'personal freedom' crowd over the lives of children. He is now facing a massive revolt among Florida schools and, the polling suggests, a loss of confidence among the electorate.

The Beltway Press Must Own Its DeSantis Debacle

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

As Covid rages on in Florida, turning the Sunshine State not only into a virus epicenter of the United States but of the entire world, news organizations aren't being honest about the public health crisis under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. They're not being transparent about how months ago they embraced GOP spin and portrayed the derelict governor as a pandemic star, regurgitating conservative rhetoric about how liberal critics had been proven wrong about DeSantis' wrong-headed policy decisions, which have since propelled Florida into a grave health crisis.

The state recently broke its one-day record for new Covid cases, topping out at 21,000which is as many new cases as the entire country of France tabulates each day. Florida now has more than 12,000 (unvaccinated) people occupying hospital beds battling Covid, another grim benchmark under DeSantis. It's unthinkable that the state has been plunged into public health chaos when a safe vaccine is readily available to all Floridians over the age of 12.

At a time when states are supposed to be emerging from the year-and-a-half pandemic, Florida is shifting into reverse – it recently recorded more coronavirus cases this week than California, Texas, New York and Illinois combined. This all comes 15 months after DeSantis famously, and loudly, declared victory over the pandemic, back when the state was tallying 500 cases a day.

This debacle, and the media's refusal to be transparent about how badly it managed the DeSantis story, says as much about the state of the Beltway media as it does about this burgeoning Covid chapter.

For an industry that demands transparency and accountability from public officials, the political press is terrible at conceding its mistakes, especially when those blunders are documented by liberals. Programmed to fear charges of liberal media bias, the Beltway press often scrambles to correct supposed failures highlighted by conservatives. Hyper-sensitive to bad-faith, right-wing critiques and eager to make nice with those accusers, journalists uniformly look away when confronted by the left with irrefutable evidence of failure. And boy, did they screw up the DeSantis story.

This spring, journalists eagerly touted DeSantis' supposed virus leadership— it was Politico that announced, "How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic." This, after 30,000 Floridians had already died from the virus and after the governor foolishly placed one million orders of hydroxychloroquine in tribute to Trump.

"After a year of criticism by health experts, mockery from comedians and blistering critiques from political rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing unabashedly tall among the nation's governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight," CNN cheered, adding that DeSantis remained "defiant and combative." CNN suggested he deserved a star turn because "Florida lands nearly in the middle of all states on a variety of coronavirus metrics" — talk about a low bar.

"Vindication for Ron DeSantis," the Wall Street Journal announced. The New York Times cheered, "In a country just coming out of the morose grip of coronavirus lockdowns, Florida feels unmistakably hot."

Not one of those news outlets, that I've seen or heard, has addressed its glowing DeSantis coverage, or explained to news consumers how and why newsrooms rushed in to paint the Republican as a Covid savior, only to watch the state now grapple with a man-made crisis.

Incredibly, DeSantis is still getting the media's benefit of doubt.

The New York Times on Tuesday published a column from Alex Azar, who served as secretary of health and human services under Trump, praising DeSantis for helping spread a pro-vaccine message to voters. That's an absurd thing to be saying in August 2021. The truth is, DeSantis went AWOL for most of this year on the topic of vaccines.

Watching the Republican Party and Fox News embrace dangerous, anti-vaccine rhetoric, DeSantis didn't want to be out of step as he eyes a possible presidential run in 2024. Instead of acting as the steward of a vulnerable local population, DeSantis abdicated his responsibilities for partisan reasons. Yet today, he receives praise in the pages of the Times.

And when the governor recently took the extraordinary irresponsible move of forbidding local school districts from mandating masks for students if needed to battle local virus surges, CNN ran a pro-GOP chyron while reporting the story: "DeSantis signs executive order giving parents power to choose whether to mask kids at school."

The news outlet most in need of some DeSantis self-reflection is Politico, which essentially doubled as the governor's communications shop last winter and spring, churning out three separate cheerleading pieces for the Florida Republican:

• "Covid wars launch DeSantis into GOP 'top tier'

• "How Ron DeSantis won the pandemic"

• "Ron DeSantis Is Very Pleased With Himself"

That last piece clocked in at 8,000 words (!!), and read like it had been ghost-written by DeSantis' spokesperson. "He was right," read the first sentence, and the glowing profile continued from there, detailing how DeSantis had foiled his critics by producing some sort of miraculous Covid oasis in the Sunshine State. "He is basking in a moment of reassessment of what and how he has done—and also of what it might mean, not just for his and his state's political future but that of the nation."

Everybody makes mistakes. And holding DeSantis up as Republican Covid hero was a doozy. Now the press needs to address that failure.

Remember When DeSantis 'Won The Pandemic'?

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Florida has become a Covid-19 debacle, again.

Now accounting for one-in-every five new cases nationwide, the Sunshine State under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has emerged as a beacon of irresponsibility. Not that he seems to care.

Off visiting Texas recently to take part in more GOP photo-ops at the border, DeSantis often brushes off the pandemic bad news. "It's a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states," he said this week. (He blamed "quote-unquote 'experts'" for criticizing the unvaccinated.) The governor is busy though, selling anti-vaccine merchandise, like "Don't Fauci My Florida" t-shirts.

Question: Does the Beltway press care about the state's drastic Covid U-turn? This spring, journalists lionized DeSantis' supposed virus leadership— it was Politico that announced, "How Ron DeSantis Won the Pandemic." This, after 30,000 Floridians had already died from the virus.

This is the same DeSantis who spent last year trying to silence scientists, covering up data, rescinding mask ordinances, playing down the virus' threat, fighting with the Florida press, and portraying himself as a maverick under attack. He even foolishly placed one million orders of hydroxychloroquine in tribute to Trump.

The irony is that DeSantis is now facing a Covid crisis specifically because his supporters — Republicans — aren't getting vaccinated at the same rate as others in the state. If they were, Florida, and the rest of the country, would be approaching herd immunity. Instead, the proudly unvaccinated MAGA's are driving the Florida meltdown, with some counties reporting that new cases are coming 100 percent from those who refused to get the shot. Still, DeSantis won't act. He won't lead.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial page recently read the governor the riot act over his dereliction of duty:

At the moment, it's as if DeSantis has washed his hands of the matter and moved on to elections, borders, critical race theory, mocking Fauci or whatever else will get him a headline.
And every few days, nearly as many people are dying from COVID as died in the recent collapse of a condominium in South Florida.
Please, governor, we're begging you, handle the COVID problem. Be a leader.

How bad is Florida?

• New Covid cases are up nearly 200 percent over the past two weeks.

• Florida is third in the nation in per capita increases, accounting for nearly 20 perecent of the entire nation's new infections.

•The rate of positive tests is now well above 10 percent.

• Florida now boasts the fourth-highest rate of hospitalizations and the nation's highest average for daily deaths.

•The state's vaccination rate, 57 percent, remains a mediocre embarrassment.

• The Sunshine State has the second lowest rate of vaccinated nursing home workers in the country.

All of this makes the media's torrent of DeSantis valentines earlier this year look inexcusable. Beltway scribes lined up to tell the same story over and over: Democratic critics were wrong about DeSantis, Covid, and Florida, and now he's riding high within the GOP. They eagerly held him up as a rare Republican Covid star, pushing GOP talking points about how DeSantis had steered the Sunshine State into "boom" times.

"After a year of criticism by health experts, mockery from comedians and blistering critiques from political rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing unabashedly tall among the nation's governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight," CNN cheered, adding that DeSantis remained "defiant and combative."

"Vindication for Ron DeSantis," the Wall Street Journal announced.

Politico applauded the "wonky" Florida governor and his Covid-fueled rise in Republican politics: "Conservatives are relishing the contrast and holding up DeSantis as an example of effective governance." In a report about Florida's supposed Covid success story, the New York Times quoted DeSantis bragging, "If you look at South Florida right now, this place is booming." (No Democratic officials were quoted in the Times piece to offer a counter perspective.)

I understand why DeSantis' communications teams wanted to get those stories placed in the national press — he clearly has his eyes on a White House run. But why did Beltway journalists play along and type up a series of extended press releases, pretending that DeSantis alone had figured out how to defeat a global pandemic by battling health officials urging caution and common sense?

As the Delta variant runs wild, will journalists who lauded DeSantis in the spring admit they got the story wrong, and tell the truth about the Covid disaster that Florida has become?