Orlando Sentinel Front: ‘Bully’ DeSantis Uses ‘Fear Factor’ to Push ‘Hard-Right Agenda’

May 9th, 2023 4:56 PM

Can the local "news" papers make national waves in a presidential race? The Orlando Sentinel newspaper has spent the last five years waging war on Florida’s successful conservative governor Ron DeSantis. Now, as DeSantis seems to be preparing a presidential announcement, the front page of Sunday’s Sentinel features a bad-faith hit piece by reporter Jeffrey Schweers, appeared in print under the headline “Legislature veers right for DeSantis.”

The online headline escalated the labeling: “Florida Legislature takes hard right turn to please DeSantis.” The print story came complete with an unflattering frowny Sentinel photograph of DeSantis on the jump page.

Eager to advance Gov. Ron DeSantis’ agenda as he angles toward running for president, the Republican-controlled Legislature veered its furthest to the right politically in modern history on issues such as abortion, education and gay rights.

The Sentinel seemed peculiarly disturbed by Republican legislators pursuing Republican policies supported by their Republican governor.

Republican leaders had admitted their goal was to get the governor what he wanted, said Aubrey Jewett, a University of Central Florida political science professor. “It’s been a very conservative session.”


There is also the fear factor, Jewett added, as other politicians won’t cross him because he’s so popular, has millions in campaign contributions and is “politically ruthless.”

“He’s very Machiavellian and successful,” Jewett said.

Republican leaders hailed the session as one of the most successful ones for conservative values, which they credited to DeSantis’ leadership.

But House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell of Tampa called it one of the most “divisive and dangerous” sessions, resulting in laws that restrict the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, voters and minorities.

Schweers and the Sentinel keep seeing defeat around the corner: 

But even as DeSantis and lawmakers advanced the hard-right agenda, polls show the governor’s support dropping and the gap widening between him and Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

“DeSantis got nearly everything he wanted, which on a national level might be a massive liability,” Stipanovich said.

Driskell said his efforts backfired.

The liberal hope that "to know DeSantis is to hate him" is stated as fact.

Because of fears about Trump, many Republicans would like an alternative, Stipanovich said. But the more they get to know DeSantis, the less likely they are to support him.

More unchallenged dictation was taken from virulently hostile Democratic sources. Reading the article makes one marvel at how DeSantis ever managed to win his 2022 re-election race, much less by 20 points.

“We are witnessing an unraveling of education, and assaults on higher ed put our universities at risk from being world-class to class clown,” Driskell said. “We’ve seen hundreds of school books removed and the best defense the governor can give is arguing over whether it is technically a ban or not.

The focus on the LGBTQ community was reflected in measures that define sex as a person’s biological gender at birth based on reproductive organs, forcing transgender people to use restrooms of their birth gender….

Near the end the Sentinel warned:

That battle is not winning DeSantis many friends, Rep. Kelly Skidmore said.

“The entire country and even the world at this point believe he’s gone too far,” she said. “It really is indicative of this governor’s persona. He is a bully.”