DeSantis cranks up the heat on media, urges private action against ‘defamation’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is one of the rare politicians in America who appears to understand that as a Republican, the media is an adversary and he acts accordingly, which likely explains why they come at him with one biased attack after another almost as frequently as they go after Donald Trump.

The popular governor held an hour-long roundtable discussion on Tuesday against a backdrop that read “TRUTH” in all capital letters, where he urged private action to fight against media “defamation.” His remarks reflect an understanding that the real threat to “democracy” is today’s compromised media industry.

“We’ve seen over the last generation, corporate media outlets, legacy media outlets increasingly divorce themselves from the truth and instead try to elevate preferred narratives and partisan activism over reporting the facts,” DeSantis said. “When they depart from the truth – a lot of times the truth’s on the cutting-room floor – and the narratives that they’re supporting and furthering actually damage a lot of people with lies.”

DeSantis was joined by legal experts and people who have been defamed by the media, including former Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann.

One of the panelists, attorney Libby Locke, who represents voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems Inc., sent Trump supporters into a frenzy — Dominion sued Fox News, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, among others, over claims made about the 2020 election.

Right on cue:

“At the end of that day, what I think they fought for is to hold these big media companies accountable for their actionable lies,” DeSantis said. “It’s one thing to say what you want in truth, and that’s fine, and the truth isn’t always comfortable – but when you’re knowingly putting out false information and, indeed, I’d say these companies are probably the leading purveyors of disinformation in our entire society right now, there needs to be an ability for people to defend themselves.”

In sharing a clip on the Russian collusion hoax, DeSantis tweeted: “Legacy media outlets have embraced the practice of laundering character attacks through the use of anonymous sources. This allows these outlets to harm the reputations of the average citizen without affording the individual the ability to fight back.”

“The swan song has been this Russian collusion hoax, because they indulged in that for two years and it was almost all based on anonymous sources. It all was eventually debunked. Even in real-time people were saying this, but they just kept cycling in this. And I think it just raises the question, you know: this obsession with these anonymous sources, where did that come from? It used to be rare that you would do it.”

“And, I mean, to assassinate someone’s character with anonymous sources would have been a total no-no. Now, it’s just kind of like a normal – and actually the preferred – method of being able to deliver content.”

DeSantis stressed that while the media comes after him, he has a platform to fight back from but others “who get maligned unfairly” don’t always have “adequate recourse.”

“People here trust me a hell of a lot more than they trust the media so it ends up being fine,” he said at one point, “we all work it out. you know. It’s not a big deal; I got thick skin.”


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Tom Tillison


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