By Rod Thomson
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has gained tremendous popularity among conservatives nationwide with his deft handling of the COVID pandemic, personal freedoms, open-for-business attitude and almost Trumpian willingness to fight against the establishment and elitist wisdom but with a Harvard-trained communications ability.
As such, he has been under relentless attack by the Democrat media, seen most obviously when comparing the attack dog media coverage of DeSantis to the lap dog media coverage of New York Gov. Andrew Coumo — a governor that has done a much worse job by every single measurement.
But as DeSantis ramps up for his 2022 re-election campaign, and perhaps eyeing a 2024 run for the White House, the media has become that special combination of hilarious, jaw-dropping and nauseating. The past few days have been a perfect example.
With Florida’s large elderly population, and the elderly by far the most vulnerable to the virus, DeSantis has targeted the 65 and older crowd, along with health care workers, as the top priority.
He’s done it in partnership with hundreds of Publix pharmacies and other pharmacies around the state, state-run distribution sites and unique three-day pop-up clinics to pinpoint smaller areas being missed. These pop-up clinics are aimed at elderly communities with high demand but lower saturation of vaccines. This is actually quite brilliant management, and has been held at mobile home parks, minority communities, The Villages, and so on. DeSantis goes to nearly every one, spreading the word. And it’s smart politics.
Well Tuesday, a pop-up clinic was held in Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, just another of more than a dozen held without much media comment — until the media attack dogs found an angle to go after DeSantis, and the salivating howling began.
The Bradenton Herald, knowing the demographic makeup of Lakewood Ranch, ran the first story under the headline: “More COVID vaccine coming to Manatee. Only residents of these two zip codes can get it” Well, yes. That’s because they are aimed at specific communities.
The second attack dog, the Orlando Sentinel, picked up the assault, running the specific racial demographics for the zip codes. The result?
Headline: “DeSantis defends his choice of wealthy senior community for pop-up vaccine site”
Lead: A testy Gov. Ron DeSantis blew off criticism Wednesday that the state’s latest pop-up COVID-19 vaccine site was limited to residents of wealthy neighborhoods in Manatee County, including a senior community with family ties to a major DeSantis donor.
Can’t imagine why he’s testy. Not to be outdone, Politico Florida, had their beer held and also ran the wealth data for the zip codes, and one upped the Herald and Sentinel Democrat operatives. The result?
Headline: “DeSantis defends opening vaccine pop-up site in affluent, mostly white community”
Lead: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled Wednesday to an affluent, mostly white community in Manatee County to tout a pop-up vaccination site he said would make it easier for seniors there to get the shot.
(I’ve chosen not to link to the stories because I don’t want to drive traffic to these Democrat operative sites. However, if you want to read the screeds, just Google and headline and site and you will easily find the stories.)
Of course, there are more than 20 sites in Manatee County where people can get vaccines. And nationally, everyone is grappling with low vaccine rates among black Americans, which is in part because of the Tuskegee-driven distrust of vaccines, and a heightened sense of non-existent “systemic racism.”
No matter, it was another opportunity to attack DeSantis. The story has been picked up and run by newspapers across the nation, as the media worked in tandem to drive the story.
Then social media kicked in, and the hashtag #DeathSantis is trending as this is written. Of course, no fact checks or blocking there, just the full tripod of Democrats, media and social media working together to damage a leading Republican.
The irony is that the Florida vaccine rollout is going very well and Florida’s declining numbers continue to outperform the national average and other large states. By a lot. Florida is thriving under DeSantis’ leadership like no blue state. Therefore, DeSantis is a racist. Same old playbook. And not divisive at all.