Ron DeSantis has become a quasi-dictator with genocidal ambitions. Unfortunately, there are two deep structural flaws in American journalism that are enabling his reign of terror.
First is the deference to power and normalization of madness. I can tell you from first-hand experience that journalists are taught to offer an unceasing respect to public officeholders, who are in theory representatives of American voters. They’re also supposed to be dispassionate chroniclers of the moment, recording objective facts and betraying as little opinion or bias as possible. Those foundational rules, paired with a subconscious belief in American exceptionalism from the eye of a storm, generally lead to news coverage that conveys information but not urgency, flattening events into concise capsules no matter how absurd or unprecedented they may be.
Second is what I call the horse race at the glue factory. The era of cable news, access journalism, and social media have turned everything into politics, no matter what’s at stake. There’s an entire sub-industry built on outrage, but even the most prominent and respected news coverage is disproportionately driven by who said what, how it’ll play in the endless invisible chess game that guides DC, and how they imagine their platonic ideal of a voter might think of the situation. Just look at how the venerable New York Times framed DeSantis’s murderous approach to the pandemic a few days ago:
Mr. DeSantis has been unyielding in his approach to the pandemic, refusing to change course or impose restrictions despite uncontrolled spread and spiking hospitalizations — an approach that forced him to undertake the biggest risk of his rising political career.
Yes, Florida may be experiencing more Covid cases than ever before, with more than 24,000 on Friday alone, and yes, DeSantis may be openly and proudly exacerbating the plague killing his constituents, but the real risk here is how it might impact his political ambitions?
In any sane or just world, DeSantis’s bloodthirsty governance would be drawing comparisons to proponents of ethnic cleansing and mass murderers, not inspiring articles about the jockeying for a presidential nomination three years ago.
This is a man who just threatened to fine school boards for asking children to wear masks at school to protect them against a Covid variant that is exponentially more deadly to people under 12. He is defying science, logic, and even the most modest human decency with his continued efforts to endanger as many people as possible.
DeSantis has managed the pandemic by making decisions based on politics and sociopathy, not compassion or even competence. It stretches all the way back to early in the pandemic, when he opened Florida up almost immediately after it shut down and then spent the entire summer and fall defying science. Look at this slice of a timeline I put together from last year:
Just look at this timeline I put together for my newsletter/site:
- August 7th: DeSantis and his education commissioner threatened to withhold funding from schools that did not open up to in-person classes five days a week.
- September 25th: DeSantis reopens the entire state. He goes so far as to ban any cities from creating more than a 50% capacity restriction on restaurants, bars, and other locations where the disease is known to spread.
His decisions only got more defiantly reckless and vicious, and for a while, he was relatively “lucky.” Florida was still racking up the deaths, but other states had higher case rates, so DeSantis was hailed as a hero. But between his refusal to allow cities to enact mask mandates, the shoddy job he did in distributing vaccines to anyone but his richest supporters, and ban on any vaccine passports, not to mention distrust he fostered in the federal government or anyone suggesting people take simple precautions, DeSantis was simply inviting a huge surge of Covid cases and mass deaths to strike the people of Florida.
Now, the Delta variant is pummeling Floridians — and DeSantis is still refusing to take action. His decisions may be politically motivated, but so are most assassinations, and those are still considered murder. Look at these numbers:
There were over 56,000 new cases this weekend alone, with 120 new deaths reported on Monday. We shouldn’t be talking about DeSantis’s political future, we should be discussing his legal future. He belongs in prison.
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