Americans who gather their news exclusively via the national media and through various social media platforms might genuinely believe that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the worst public officials in the country. Ever since DeSantis won a surprise victory over their preferred candidate, then proceeded to rack up astoundingly strong public approval ratings in a key battleground state, journalists and other leftists have been fanatically determined to take him down. They've used the pandemic as an opportunity to do so, relentlessly casting him as a reckless villain from the get-go -- even when the empirical data showed that Florida was, if anything, a national success story, especially compared to the waking nightmare in New York. An actual villain has presided over that state's disaster, of course, but he's from the correct tribe. So he gets plaudits and trophies.
One can certainly make a case that Florida has handled any number of Coronavirus-related matters imperfectly, which could be said of any state, but their actual public health outcomes lie in the middle of the pack compared to other states at the moment, despite Florida's relatively lax approach to lockdowns and business closures. They rank 20th in deaths per capita (behind places like DC, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and of course New York and New Jersey), in spite of being home to a disproportionately elderly population (DeSantis wisely focused on protecting nursing homes early, unlike other governors celebrated by the press yet stained by scandal). As of last week, the Sunshine State clocked in at 26th in the nation on COVID case rates. On hospitalizations, that statistic has risen steadily in Florida, which is concerning. Still, even though it has a much larger population than New York, Florida currently has fewer people hospitalized with Coronavirus than New York does.
One last set of comparisons, for the purposes of contrasting media coverage: The Atlantic, a prestigious left-leaning magazine, grades each state on the quality of COVID data they're providing to the public. It's a measure of transparency and accountability. Florida receives an 'A.' New York and California receive a 'B' (but hey, New York's governor received an Emmy award for his presentations). Connecticut receives a 'C.' (Pop quiz: Can you name the governor of Connecticut, off the top of your head?) And yet the press has given lots of oxygen to allegations that DeSantis has been uniquely opaque and corrupt, hiding data and shading the truth for political benefit. That's a lie. Those labels really do apply to New York's governor, not Florida's. There is no excuse for journalists to have lent credence to a crackpot's wild claims against DeSantis regarding "suppressed" data, yet it's an article of faith among many Very Online people that DeSantis recently ordered her arrested for blowing the whistle, which is a ludicrous lie. Her grift has gained traction among knee-jerk partisans, including media types, and has proven quite lucrative. If you make negative claims about Ron DeSantis, you are to be automatically believed and enriched. Speaking of ludicrous lies, here's a claim about DeSantis that went viral over the weekend:
DeSantis says we have no vaccines in Florida because Pfizer never sent them.— Inxsy Sparks (@InxsySparks) December 20, 2020
Pfizer said he never ordered any.
That lie was birthed by a random person and spread like wildfire on Saturday, fueled by supposedly respectable 'blue checkmark' types. It's utterly false garbage. Here's just one example of a news report, published the previous Monday -- five days before the above lie sped 'round the virtual world -- proving that every aspect of the tweet is false:
A 31-year-old nurse at Tampa General Hospital rolled up her left shirt sleeve Monday and became one of the first people in Florida to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, state and local officials are working to administer the nearly 20,000 doses Tampa General Hospital received. Front line nurse Vanessa Arroyo who has been working at Tampa General Hospital for eight years received the Pfizer vaccine with Governor Ron DeSantis in attendance. With 1,710 new coronavirus cases in Tampa Bay counties including 43 deaths Monday, Gov. DeSantis was eager to see the vaccine administrated to health care workers.
Last week, DeSantis outlined the vaccination distribution plan in the state:
- 97,500 doses are being shipped to hospitals for vaccine to high-contact and high-exposure health care distribution to the five hospitals in Florida chosen because they are equipped with cold storage containers to store the vaccine at 80 degrees below centigrade. Along with Tampa General Hospital, UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, UF Health Jacksonville, AdventHealth Orlando, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, will prioritize staff members being vaccinnated vaccinated based on their risk of getting COVID-19.
- 60,450 doses of the vaccine will be sent to CVS and Walgreens to be used in long-term care facilities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a partnerxship with both to distribute the vaccine to the facilities.
- 21,450 doses of vaccine will go directly to the Florida Department of Health. Teams from Health, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the Florida National Guard will go into long-term care facilities and administer the vaccine in areas with a high concentration of facilities.
By Tuesday morning more than 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will have been distributed to Florida hospitals. By the weekend, 179,000 doses will be in the state. Next week, the state will receive 365,000 doses of the vaccine, and in just a few weeks— pending FDA approval— up to 1 million doses could be in Florida.
Indeed, by the time the dishonest tweet was published, tens of thousands of Floridians had already received their first of two injections of the Pfizer vaccine. None of these facts prevented hordes of people from sharing the misinformation, including some prominent figures who are evidently more interested in making a politician they don't like look bad than spending two seconds double checking an obviously ridiculous claim. There have been hiccups and miscommunications on pieces of the vaccine distribution operation -- for which others have taken responsibility -- but the claims above are just flatly false. President Trump and some of his supporters make ludicrously incorrect claims on a regular basis, and those claims are picked apart by fact-checkers and are often slapped with warning labels and disclaimers by Twitter. Yet other misinformation goes largely unchallenged -- whether on COVID or election legitimacy. Odd, that. I'll leave you with another fact check from yours truly, correcting an absurd tweet from a Congressional correspondent at Politico:
Pelosi rejected ~ $1.8m offers from WH for electoral politics reasons, literally saying she preferred the American people get nothing. Senate Dems filibustered multiple majority-supported relief packages months ago. https://t.co/2941LsKVAO— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 20, 2020
Some people instantly, lazily and ignorantly accused me of lying, but I have the receipts. Even CNN and Bernie Sanders admit that Pelosi turned down $1.8 trillion offers from the Trump administration this fall, double the size of the package she's now agreed to support. She herself admitted that the election outcome was a 'game changer' in her thinking, validating the Republican accusation that she was stonewalling any viable deal for political reasons, prior to the election. Mitch McConnell laid out a framework over the summer that looks remarkably similar to what will actually pass, and it was rejected out of hand by Democrats. And Senate Democrats filibustered multiple relief bills that had majority support in the upper chamber. A Newsweek analysis found that the GOP claim that Congressional Democrats blocked additional COVID relief 40 times is "mostly true." None of this should be news to a Congressional reporter. Fake news is either a serious problem, or it's not. One side's fake news cannot be treated as an ongoing emergency, while the other side gets a pass.