The Fox News Channel and sister networks have offered glowing coverage of Gov. Ron DeSantis since he was in Congress, but it’s not always huzzahs and hosannas.
An example of somewhat more critical coverage appeared Monday morning on the Fox Business Network. Anchor Dagen McDowell offered a blistering critique of $450 checks sent to Florida families via the Hope Florida initiative, calling it “pandering” and “moronacy” and comparing DeSantis to a recent Democratic foil, California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
McDowell, the fill-in host for Monday’s “Mornings with Maria,” said DeSantis “is sending stimulus checks to lower-income Floridians, which again is a level of moronacy that you see out of Gavin Newsom.”
“We’re going to fight inflation by fueling inflation with stimulus checks, regardless of who you’re sending them to,” McDowell said. “Again, that’s pandering.”
“Actually, it’s worse than pandering,” the anchor added. “You’re just handing money out to people.”
When the commentary was spotlighted on Twitter, McDowell doubled-down on the use of “moronacy” and the Newsom comp.
“I said the same thing about Newsom,” McDowell tweeted. “Let’s fight inflation by fomenting it? That is moronacy.”
First Lady Casey DeSantis rolled out the spending this summer, saying the Governor’s Office was “making sure that we’re doing everything we can on behalf of Florida families … so $35 million within that budget will then go to support our foster and adoptive families — our single moms across the state — so they will get a one-time payment of $450.” Suggested spending of the money included buying diapers and gas.
The Governor’s Office responded on Twitter to McDowell and to questions posed by Florida Politics, offering correctives to the narrative she promulgated on national television.
Deputy Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said McDowell “is wrong about Florida’s foster care family aid.
He tweeted, “1) the payments were specifically for foster care families, 2) the $$ was repurposed federal dollars that would have to be utilized or lost to (Joe) Biden (wasted), 3) states don’t cause inflation — the fed printing $$ did,” Griffin wrote.
McDowell responded: “Stimulus checks. Extra welfare. Targeted relief. Call it what you will. Handing out more money when inflation is running at a 40-year high is bad economic policy. And the idea that Republicans are somehow better at spending taxpayer money than Democrats? Laughable. Stop spending.”
Griffin’s sentiments were echoed by Press Secretary Christina Pushaw in a response to our emailed question.
“Even though this Fox Business correspondent is clearly mistaken about the cause of inflation, she’s entitled to express her own opinion. Unlike the partisan ‘mainstream’ media and liberal politicians, we do not expect any media outlet to act as an extension of the governor’s press office,” Pushaw contended.
DeSantis has said in the past his administration has discretion as to how to deploy federal pandemic relief dollars.
“We got this money dumped,” DeSantis noted in March. “I could have just spent it and said it was emergency spending.”
The Governor’s Office and political operation have had a friendly relationship with Fox News properties.
The prime-time Fox News shows gave DeSantis an invaluable platform during the 2018 Governor’s race, and since elected, the network has offered dozens of largely uncritical interviews where the Governor has encountered little pushback from his questioners.
For now, it seems that at least officially, the DeSantis operation is unfazed by this example of more aggressive coverage from the Fox family.
Democrats capitalized on the whole storyline, meanwhile.
“This is a textbook example of Ron DeSantis acting like your average phony politician. His position on COVID relief checks is entirely dependent on how it affects him politically – the economic struggles of Floridians don’t even factor into the equation. Now, even conservative media is pointing out how hypocritical DeSantis is,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Travis Reuther.
Ouch. @dagenmcdowell goes after “pandering” @GovRonDeSantis and accuses him of “moronacy” and driving inflation with stimulus checks to low income families. Looks like the gloves are coming off re: Americas Governor. pic.twitter.com/TRc9MhD9cO
— AG Gancarski (@AGGancarski) July 25, 2022