It’s not often reporters in the mainstream media will come to the defense of Ron DeSantis, but it actually happened on Tuesday after a couple of tweets about the Florida governor posted by accounts notorious for posting fake news went viral.
It all started after Democrat Jon Cooper, who has over a million followers and whose Twitter profile reads “Former National Finance Chair of Draft Biden 2016, Long Island Campaign Chair for @BarackObama & Majority Leader of Suffolk County Legislature, NY” wrote the below message falsely claiming that “DeSantis signs bill requiring Florida students and professors to register their political views with the state”:
ICYMI: Ron DeSantis signs bill requiring Florida students and professors to register their political views with the state https://t.co/cWzHyhhmIw
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) July 5, 2022
The tweet went viral not long after as leftist blue checks galore including the “woke” Jemele Hill shared the story (along with their “outrage!”) as if it was new and Very Concerning™ and further evidence that DeSantis is a “fascist” or something.
“Ron DeSantis is forcing teachers to identify their political affiliation to Florida’s GOP state legislatures,” proclaimed Dash Dobrofsky, a self-described Democrat strategist who has nearly 60,000 followers. “If the Legislatures aren’t ‘satisfied’ with the answers, they can defund those public schools. This is not Freedom of Speech. This is Fascism. Vote for @CharlieCrist.”
He then followed up with some hot take-style videos about how DeSantis “just passed a bill” that forces public school teachers and students to “submit their political beliefs” to the government via a survey.
Though discerning readers and viewers would note that there are not “state legislatures” in Florida outside of the one in Tallahassee, and also that DeSantis can’t “pass a bill” (he can sign one into law), the bigger issues with these stories are a) they’re not true and b) the bill that was passed and signed into law related to politics in schools was from a year ago, as ABC News reporter Jay O’Brien noted:
This viral post is inaccurate.
Further, it references a law passed in 2021 and makes a claim that was debunked that same year. Even the article it links to was written in 2021.
Look before you retweet. https://t.co/0BOMrchsTF
— Jay O’Brien (@jayobtv) July 5, 2022
Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch, no fan of the DeSantis administration, also scolded Cooper and others for trying to pass off fake news as accurate:
C’mon, Jon, this is not what bill does.
— Peter Schorsch (@PeterSchorschFL) July 5, 2022
O’Brien in particular seemed particularly riled, perhaps because he used to report for Florida’s CBS 12 news outlet and knows the actual facts about the bill in question. He linked to a Politifact fact check that debunked similar claims that were made last year about the bill, as well as the bill itself and a sample of the actual survey.
As we pointed out at the time of the bill’s signing when “news” outlets like the Washington Post and The Hill were lying about it, it did not do what DeSantis’ critics claimed it would do, as the text from the 12-page bill makes that clear (bolded emphasis added):
(b) The State Board of Education shall require each Florida College System institution to conduct an annual assessment of the intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity at that institution. The State Board of Education shall select or create an objective, nonpartisan, and statistically valid survey to be used by each institution which considers the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented and members of the college community, including students, faculty, and staff, feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom. The State Board of Education shall annually compile and publish the assessments by September 1 of each year, beginning on September 1, 2022. The State Board of Education may adopt rules to implement this paragraph.
(c) The State Board of Education may not shield students, faculty, or staff at Florida College System institutions from free speech protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Art. I of the State Constitution, or s. 1004.097.
That’s not “requiring Florida students and professors to register their political views with the state” as Cooper claimed, nor is it “forcing teachers to identify their political affiliation to Florida’s GOP state legislatures,” as Dobrofsky asserted. What the bill does do is mandate they be surveyed as to whether or not they feel comfortable stating their political beliefs on campus, and if they believe a diversity of viewpoints are being represented. Big difference.
I feel like saying “read the bill” here, but considering the bad track record of leftist Twitter flamethrowers when it comes to DeSantis, even reading the bill wouldn’t help them. It’s all about (false) narratives, and to hell with the facts.
And the response from the Twitter Powers That Be – the same people who say they are committed to stopping the spread of disinformation – will, of course, be to allow the tweets to stand.
Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s so tiresome but unless Elon Musk makes the changes he’s said he will there, this is likely how it will always be.