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Tipsheet

NPR Sure Gets Wrecked for Coverage of Florida License Plate

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

Democrats have an obsession with targeting Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and the successful run he's had in helping Florida thrive. It turns out that Democratic allies in the mainstream media have such an obsession too, including in the case of NPR. The cause of their freakout? It's because DeSantis promoted a Gadsden flag license plate.

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A Thursday report from the taxpayer-funded outlet claims that "A Florida license plate has reopened the debate over the 'Don't tread on me' flag," and a tweet promoting the article is even worse, as it leans on "critics [who] say it symbolizes a dangerous far-right extremist ideology."

As the report mentions early on:

The imagery of the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag dates to Benjamin Franklin but has, for many, come to symbolize a far-right extremist ideology and the "Stop the Steal" movement that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

"'Love, love, love' Florida Gov. DeSantis new license plate; 'Don't Tread on Me!'" one Twitter user said. "This is how we feel about our great country..that is right now being systematically destroyed by the radical Left."

There's no hyperlinks or identification of the Twitter user. Further, what this person reportedly tweeted isn't exactly a slam dunk on this "dangerous far-right extremist ideology" that NPR seems to be so desperately going for.

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When it comes to these "critics," there's also the usual suspects, so-called experts who come from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC targets groups it disagrees with, particularly Christian-oriented groups, with the label of "hate group" with such reckless abandon and has such ridiculous takes it's hard to take them seriously:

"The state can't claim a lack of knowledge about what this image represents to most of the public," says Rachel Carroll Rivas, deputy director of research and analysis for the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

She says it's become clear that the flag has been used for some "really awful" causes, most notably the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where violent protesters attacked police as part of an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Carroll Rivas compares it to a similar controversy over the use of the Confederate "stars and bars" flag on license plates. In 2009, the group Confederate Veterans, Inc., requested the flag on a specialty license plate, but Texas refused. The veterans group sued, and the case ultimately went to the Supreme Court. In 2015, in a 5-4 decision, the court held that such specialty plates (not to be confused with "vanity plates") were government speech and therefore states have the right to pick and choose what goes on them.

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It's not until the 18th paragraph when the report mentions proceeds for the license plate benefit the Florida Veterans Foundation, which gets $25 per plate. While Dennis Baker, the group's chairman, is referenced in the piece with his concerns about how the plate has not been doing well, a July 30 tweet in support from Gov. DeSantis is likely to boost sales now.

As everything tends to be for the mainstream media, NPR is can't help making the connection to January 6, decrying how such a license plate was available in Kansas. The closing section in part reads that "Kansas approved the 'Don't Tread on Me' plates only weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, when television images of rioters waving the flag were still fresh."

The tweet from NPR has been sufficiently ratioed, with nearly 4,000 replies and over 1,000 quoted retweets mocking it, with our friends at Twitchy highlighting some of the best responses. 

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As it turns out, NPR isn't the only outlet to freak out about the license plate, as local news outlet WFLA claimed there was a "controversy," referring to two random Twitter users.  

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