Gov. DeSantis Hosts Roundtable on Media Defamation, Wants to Protect ‘Little Guy’
Governor Ron DeSantis hosted a roundtable on Tuesday to discuss the issue of defamation by the mainstream media. DeSantis was joined by several experts on the subject, including multiple victims of media defamation.
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“We’ve seen over the last generation legacy media outlets increasingly divorce themselves from the truth and instead try to elevate preferred narratives and partisan activism over reporting the facts,” Governor DeSantis said. “When the media attacks me, I have a platform to fight back. When they attack everyday citizens, these individuals don’t have the adequate recourses to fight back. In Florida, we want to stand up for the little guy against these massive media conglomerates.”
One of the panelists that joined the roundtable was Nick Sandmann, a former student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. Sandmann was 16 years old when a vicious and false media narrative upended his life.
“In my case, I didn’t have any reputation to ruin. I didn’t have any kind of career.”
Sandmann was attending a March for Life rally in Washington D.C., when a 64-year-old counterprotester confronted him. Video of the event was relayed across multiple networks, and Sandmann was falsely portrayed to have harassed the man.
“I didn’t even get the opportunity of a ‘care to comment.’ What you got was a rush to judgement where they took a 60-second clip from Twitter. They wanted to be the first one with the story. I would say it was the most difficult period of my life. They predetermined what the rest of my future was going to look like.”
DeSantis was also joined by Dennis O’Connor, a former secretary of the Board of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-2nd Amendment group. The group agreed to an interview as part of a gun violence documentary, only to be smeared by deceptive editing. The members were portrayed as ignorant by reporter Katie Couric, with their interview answers edited out and replaced by long, awkward silence.
“Too many people believed what they actually saw on TV… Even when the truth came out, we took a lot of hits. There has to be a return to ethics and real journalism.”
Michael Moynihan, a former correspondent for Vice News, provided his insight as someone who has worked in mainstream media.
“I think that we have to start by focusing on how screwed up the business model of the media is,” Moynihan said. “When I started in media, the internet was a thing, but it wasn’t what drove the new cycle. In a single newspaper, no one knew what articles did best, they only knew how many papers were sold, but now all of that has changed. Media bias is a lot worse because of the repetitiveness and the narrative — push the narrative, and facts be damned.”
DeSantis singled out the Russian collusion narrative as “the swan song” of media hoaxes. He defended the former president and said that the media “indulged in that for two years, and it was almost all based on anonymous sources, and it all eventually was debunked.”
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The governor called upon the Florida legislature to take action to protect everyday Floridians from media defamation.