Aug 16, 2021 - Politics

Behind Ron DeSantis' Fox News blitz

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference earlier this month in Hialeah. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

From the 2020 election through February, Fox News asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to appear on its airwaves nearly once a day and willingly broadcast staged events — set up by DeSantis' team — that made the governor look good.

Driving the news: That's according to the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno, who got four months of emails between the network and DeSantis’ office through a records request.

Why it matters: The 1,250 pages of emails "lay bare how DeSantis has wielded the country’s largest conservative megaphone and show a striking effort by Fox to inflate the Republican’s profile," Contorno writes.

  • So-called "exclusives" — like one on "Fox & Friends" in January touting DeSantis' efforts to vaccinate senior citizens — are orchestrated in collaboration with the governor's media people, who share topics and talking points with the network.
  • Once, Contorno reports, a producer even offered to let DeSantis pick the subject matter if he agreed to come on.

The big picture: The network has made DeSantis one of the most popular Republicans in the country, and the friendly attention has given him a big boost already for a 2024 presidential run.

  • A nationwide poll of Republican voters in July showed that DeSantis would get 39% of the theoretical GOP primary vote sans former President Trump — with former Vice President Pence at just 15%.

Between the lines: In the first six months of this year, DeSantis had scheduled more meetings with Sean Hannity than with his lieutenant governor and the state's top public health official.

The other side: "While other networks were busy lauding states whose governors have either retired in disgrace or are undergoing a recall, Fox News was willing to hear our perspective and report the facts," a DeSantis spokesperson told the Times in a statement.


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