Facts are stubborn things—especially for the news media, who find themselves foaming at the mouth whenever they get a chance to pursue the most absurd, clickbait-type leads that paint Florida and its Gov. Ron DeSantis in a poor light.
First, they criticized him for not locking down immediately during the epidemic, despite lockdown states having no greater success at controlling COVID-19—just greater success at destroying small businesses and bankrupting state programs.
Then, they criticized him for lifting all restrictions, choosing instead to focus resources and attention on protecting the most vulnerable (the nerve, honestly).
They criticized him for letting kids go back to school, despite study after study showing the importance of in-person learning and how safe it is for all involved.
Time and time again, DeSantis has been vindicated. But that hasn’t stopped the hit pieces from coming. Now, it’s time for them to unfairly criticize the governor about vaccines.
On February 18, NBC published a blatant hit piece falsely alleging that DeSantis was playing politics with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not only was the article riddled with errors—indeed, within a few days, the author had to issue a major correction—but more importantly, it doubled down on the mainstream media’s narrative that Florida has been a failure in its response to COVID-19.
The article accused DeSantis of being “slow to respond” to the pandemic, ignoring the fact that Florida has fewer deaths per capita than have occurred under the watch of Emmy-winning New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other Democrat-governed states like New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, to name a few.
But even more egregiously, the piece incorrectly sniped at DeSantis for “playing politics” with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. First, this intentionally ignores the tremendous success Florida has had in its vaccine rollout: As of February 21, more than four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, with vaccine-per-capita administrations above most states (including New York, once again). Roughly two million seniors have been vaccinated, equal to nearly half of Florida’s senior population and accounting for more than three-quarters of the state’s vaccinated population.
But NBC says the prioritization of seniors was part of DeSantis’s effort to “ignore federal guidelines” and instead protect a crucial voting bloc. To be clear, the CDC recommended health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be the first group to receive vaccines. DeSantis’s Executive Order governing the administration of vaccines follows these recommendations, calling for “health care personnel with direct patient contact” and “long-term facility residents and staff” to be the first group vaccinated, along with persons aged 65 and over. Furthermore, the CDC reports that those aged 65 years and above have a risk of death from COVID-19 equal to between 1,100 times and 7,900 times that of four-to-17-year-olds.
So, in reality, DeSantis precisely mirrored the CDC’s recommendation to vaccinate health care workers and long-term care facility residents and followed the statistics when it came to recommending the vaccination of seniors. This isn’t politics—this is science. I thought we were supposed to follow The Science©.
NBC goes further in cherry-picking examples from Democratic operatives to allege the distribution of vaccine sites follows Republican-leaning areas. Once again, NBC is grasping at straws. If DeSantis’s vaccine administration calculations are politically motivated, why is it that Leon County—among the most liberal counties in the state—has the greatest percentage of seniors vaccinated? Why does Gadsden County—which DeSantis lost by a roughly 30-point margin—have a greater percentage of its residents vaccinated than nearby Holmes County, where he won nearly 90 percent of the vote?
To extrapolate a bit further, does this mean that California’s inequitable administration of vaccines a political effort by California Gov. Newsom to reward his rich donors living in wealthy suburbs? Why is it that 70 percent of the residents of the City of Industry (which Newsom won in 2018 with about 75 percent of the vote) have received their vaccine, while just seven percent of the residents of La Habra Heights (which Newsom lost in 2018 with less than 40 percent of the vote) have received their vaccine? Is that because Newsom is discriminating against the residents of La Habra Heights who are also less likely to support his political ventures?
Any laymen can see this type of cherry-picking is patently absurd. Yet, the media have no problem repeating it again and again when it comes to Florida and DeSantis.
As a young adult living in Florida, I am looking forward to getting my vaccine—but I am also eager to wait for the most vulnerable populations to get theirs first. DeSantis’s plan to focus on seniors and health care workers conforms with the science rather than conflicting with it. It correctly prioritizes those at the highest risk, while healthier individuals like me will wait for our turn. And it certainly doesn’t discriminate based on political calculations.
Facts are stubborn, but they matter. It’s long past time that the media recognize that the facts are on DeSantis’s side.