Given how spectacularly the media's incessant "Cuomo good, DeSantis bad" narrative has crashed and burned, you might have actually entertained the naive hope that the press would finally, sheepishly abandon it – as if it never really happened. You'd think that the humiliation alone might be a powerful motivator for a course correction. Wrong. There's evidently a hardcore cadre of dead-enders who are so positively wedded to their preferred partisan storyline that no amount of intervening data or outcomes can shake their commitment to it. It would almost be impressive if it weren't so insulting and bizarre. The latest entry in the anti-DeSantis genre comes to us from MSNBC, and it's an instant classic:
Florida Gov. DeSantis stands accused of using the Covid-19 vaccine to reward powerful political supporters and developers by setting up pop-up vaccination sites in planned communities they developed and where Republican voters predominate. https://t.co/Ove38xDtCw— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 20, 2021
Florida’s governor was slow to respond to the pandemic and his Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan has been marked by chaos, but critics say he’s been quick to recognize the political gold in those precious doses. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, ignored federal guidelines and prioritized getting senior citizens — one of Florida’s most potent voting blocs — vaccinated first. When Holocaust survivors and Cuban survivors of the Bay of Pigs debacle — revered members of two other key Florida voting blocs — got their first shots, DeSantis made sure he was there for the news conferences. And now the governor stands accused of using the Covid-19 vaccine to reward powerful political supporters and developers by setting up pop-up vaccination sites in planned communities they developed and where GOP voters predominate.
Incredible. The opening sentences of this garbage story – written by an NBC News reporter named Corky Siemaszko – exhibit hall of fame levels of hackery, bias, and self-owning. Corky simply asserts that DeSantis was "slow to respond" to COVID in general (in reality, he quickly prioritized protecting seniors, unlike certain others) and that the vaccine distribution process in Florida has been "marked by chaos" (the state's overall vaccination rate is a tick above average; 24th of 50, according to The New York Times' tracker). Florida has also done rather well on COVID death rates, while avoiding punitive economic harm, and while successfully keeping schools open throughout the current academic year. Normal people look at this data and call it a success. Fanatical DeSantis despisers see failure because failure is what their faith requires them to see, no matter what.
Corky somehow decided it would reflect poorly on Florida's governor to note that he "ignored federal guidelines and prioritized senior citizens" for vaccinations. On this, Corky is correct on the facts, but wrong on the implications. He seems to think this is an example of DeSantis recklessly going rogue. In fact, it demonstrates the Florida government's foresight, as the plan rightly protected the population most likely by far to become gravely ill or die from the virus – an approach that was vindicated when the federal guidelines were changed to align with Florida's strategy. DeSantis ensured that the most at-risk demographic, including Holocaust survivors, receive their injections first. Two million-plus Florida seniors have now gotten injections. What a monster. Politico reporter Marc Caputo, who is hardly a right-winger, but who has demonstrated enough journalistic independence as to see what's in front of him, incredulously responded to the NBC story:
2 things off the bat— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 20, 2021
1) Per CDC, Florida’s “doses administered” bee 100k residents is better than many blue states (including this author’s home state of NY) (see below)
2) Following FL’s lead, CDC changed its guidance to encourage vaccinating 65+https://t.co/y7S0rAroOY
This story that Ryan's highlighting is almost self-parody.— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 20, 2021
It's so bad that I have a baseless conspiracy theory: it was secretly written by a conservative media-hater to reflect poorly on the press
Alas, ole' Corky is no undercover right-wing media-hater. He's just doing what he's programmed to do. He can't help it. His hit job spends paragraph after paragraph covering a supposed controversy over "pop-up" vaccination sites in affluent GOP-leaning areas, with some Democrats alleging political favoritism, and Republicans largely blowing off the claim. DeSantis, with a bit Trumpian flair, fired back at the complainers, musing whether they'd prefer for other counties to receive those doses. That's a fair question, even if it's a bit hard-nosed. And surprise, surprise, this particular line of attack goes out of its way to ignore counter-examples that would undercut the whole underlying thesis. This sort of malpractice is a hallmark of the press's obsessively negative DeSantis coverage. I'll also note that the NBC story contains a number of quotes from "equity" obsessives, an identity-driven cult that even The New York Times has blamed for inefficient vaccination administration regimes presided over by "progressives." And don't forget that Corky chose to open his article with the strong implication that DeSantis improperly prioritized senior citizens for vaccinations because they're a "potent voting bloc" that leans Republican – as opposed to, say, "the people with the greatest risk of dying from COVID, bar none." Here's how Corky's piece concludes:
Florida, according to the latest NBC News tally, has reported 1.84 million Covid-19 infections and nearly 30,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, some of the worst numbers in the nation. Most of those infections and deaths came after DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, claimed victory over the virus during a White House visit in April and reopened the state over the objections of health experts.
DeSantis did no such thing. Yes, he largely re-opened much of the state, but he didn't do so while pretending that Coronavirus had been vanquished. He instead made the decision that the state could handle the pandemic without simultaneously crushing millions of people's livelihoods. And despite Corky's dishonest framing about Florida suffering from "some of the worst numbers in the nation" (high population states will obviously have more raw deaths and cases than smaller states), Florida is in the bottom half of US states on COVID death rates (per 100,000 residents) – significantly outperforming a host of states that imposed far more onerous restrictions. What does that say about those "objections [from] health experts"? It seems they're a bit flummoxed themselves:
The WH’s Covid adviser, @aslavitt46, is asked why Calif., still in lockdown mode, has numbers that aren’t better than a free state, Florida.— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 17, 2021
Slavitt: “There’s so much of this virus … that’s just a little beyond our explanation” pic.twitter.com/zZFBugW97r
I'll leave you with a media "fact-checker" from a notoriously pro-Democrat outfit literally parroting dubious and nonsensical Cuomo talking points in defense of the New York nursing home deaths cover-up (the extent of Cuomo's scandal is far-reaching) – and with the White House standing by their man:
This is just false. It’s mostly based on spin from a report the Cuomo admin released themselves as part of the coverup and ignores a lot of facts. Having alleged fact-checkers saying this nonsense & nodding along speaks volumes about state of media fact-checking. https://t.co/5K8ZHAB39h— AG (@AGHamilton29) February 21, 2021
Biden’s press secretary repeatedly refuses to condemn Andrew Cuomo’s actions that led to the deaths of thousands of elderly New York nursing home residents. pic.twitter.com/0VPApRtUV2— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) February 21, 2021
Some people are simply too invested in their political stories to allow any facts to shake their partisan beliefs – journalists very much included.