It's been widely speculated that Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, currently facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit for their part in pushing Donald Trump's crooked and seditious election hoaxes, has soured on Trump and is turning to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the new exemplar of fascism-steeped Republicanism. There's another big chunk of evidence for that theory today, but I warn you: You're not going to get out of this one unscathed.
I mean, this is some premium-grade news pander. This is Simpsons "Mr. Burns runs for office" footage come to life. This is just weird, Brian.
Go on. Go and make your little jokes about Fox News and their softball interviews. Get them out of your system.
There's, uh, a whole lot to say about this. There are two grown men here playing catch ... without even removing their tailored jackets. The janky editing is just odd, but you also can't help but be suspicious as the cameras cut rapidly from politician to host, and you don't actually ever see either of them successfully toss a ball to the other. It's implied, sure. But for all we know, there's a dude just out of the camera shot doing all the throwing because, after a round of dirt-skippers, they determined this whole "playing softball in suits" thing just wasn't going to work out.
Where did they even get the mitts? Is a Little League team standing off-field because these two guys needed to borrow their field and some equipment, or was some DeSantis staffer tasked with carrying this out to a random ballfield?
And then there's the meat of it, the part where presidential aspirant Ron DeSantis pauses between throws to give an extremely wooden prepared speech about his potential campaign, and even if this interview was being done on a couch or inside a broom closet, this answer is still a work of not-exactly-art.
KILMEADE: Would you think at some time, it's safe to say, that [running for president] would will be one of your goals?
DESANTIS: [Plants both feet, begins speechmaking hand motions] I would only, I would only do stuff if I thought there was a rationale for me to accomplish things, on behalf of the people. [Kilmeade catches ball after no apparent move from DeSantis to throw it] So it's all substance driven, about whether I could serve or not serve in a variety of capacities. [Catches ball] But I'll tell ya, you know, as governor, and if you're a determined executive, you know, you can make things happen, and we've done that in Florida.
Oh, for sure. The theoretical DeSantis campaign is "all substance driven," in that he would only "do stuff" if he could accomplish "things." Things that are like the other things, the Florida things.
You just can't get more substance than that. Doing Stuff to Accomplish Things was the name of Ron DeSantis’ just-released book, if I'm recalling correctly?
And you know he can do "things" because down in Florida he as done "things," and if you want to ask for any more details than that, well, then, you're an enemy of the state and Ron DeSantis is going to make sure you can't teach at any state university or college.
What a campaign theme, though.
Ron DeSantis 2024: I Will Do STUFF To Accomplish THINGS.
There's so much more to say. Mitt Romney only wishes he could be this mechanical on the campaign trail. The moment Ron’s asked the question, he plants his feet and goes into Disney animatronic mode; you can identify the specific frames where the pneumatics begin to crap out, and he just has to wave one hand and look solemn for a moment.
And then there's this:
See, that's the difference between a photo-op and a staged interview, where you control all the cameras. We don't know how many similar moments were edited out of Ron’s tries and Brian Kilmeade's producers will absolutely never, ever tell us.
I'm still not entirely sure DeSantis came out of this interview looking any better, though. The whole point of agreeing to this interview was to goose presidential speculation, only to have Ron here botch it by spitting out a generic Kang-versus-Kodos line that may contain less substance per word than anything said on a television screen in the last fifty years. Things. Stuff?
I just don't know about this Ron DeSantis hype, everyone. Sure, the Murdoch empire would like to prop him up to continue Republicanism’s explicitly white nationalist, explicitly authoritarian-minded, explicitly sedition-agnostic path. But DeSantis has the charisma of a clogged bathroom sink; I'm not sure this guy can manage a national stage with the kind of gravitas and aplomb brought by previous Republican presidential saviors like (checks notes) that Scott Walker guy.
Texts show how Fox News blocked journalists from disproving the hoaxes that led to Jan. 6 violence
Ron DeSantis wanted to fire a Democrat to create publicity, so he simply made up a reason
Court records show Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch directing hosts to 'help' Trump and McConnell
Trump's withering attacks on DeSantis show signs of connecting
Progressives have had tremendous success passing all sorts of reforms at the ballot box in recent years, including measures that have expanded Medicaid, increased the minimum wage, and created independent redistricting commissions. How have Republicans responded? By making it harder to qualify measures for the ballot.
Daily Kos Elections' own Stephen Wolf joins us on this week's episode of The Downballot for a deep dive on the GOP's war on ballot initiatives, which includes burdensome signature requirements that disproportionately impact liberals; ramping up the threshold for passage for citizen-backed measures but not those referred by legislatures; and simply repealing voter-passed laws Republicans don't like. But Republican power is not unfettered, and Stephen explains how progressives can fight back by defeating efforts to curtail ballot measures—many of which voters themselves would first have to approve.