Poor Fox News. They just can’t catch a break. First, they found themselves on the hook for over three-quarters of a billion dollars because they lied about the 2020 election. Then they fired their popular bomb-throwing white nationalist celebrity anchor Tucker Carlson and their ratings went into the toilet. And now, after spending months boosting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (years, actually) angering their audience’s Dear Leader Donald Trump in the process, DeSantis slapped them in the face by deciding to formally announce his candidacy on Twitter instead of the network.
This is a man who actually signed election suppression legislation in a live exclusive on Fox News so you can be sure they expected they would get the long-awaited big event. Instead, like their cashiered bomb thrower Carlson, DeSantis raced into the arms of the right’s new “it boy,” Twitter owner Elon Musk. The best he could offer Fox was an appearance with D-List has-been Trey Gowdy later in the day. Rupert Murdoch must be fit to be tied. Don’t any of these people know the meaning of gratitude?
I hope everyone can contain their excitement until 6PM EST when DeSantis will be joined by Musk and Silicon Valley venture capitalist David Sacks (a member of what the Wall St. Journal calls Musk’s “shadow crew” of friends and consiglieri) to make the announcement nobody on earth didn’t know was coming. They will be on Twitter Spaces which, for those of you who are not as tuned in to the latest in online innovations as Ron DeSantis, is a platform “where users can have live audio conversations” in a “space.” Doesn’t that sound like fun?
Online is really the only place DeSantis makes sense — in front of real people, he sounds like he’s speaking in some sort of extra-terrestrial corporate patois.
Some of you may be a bit confused by all this and for good reason. After all, Elon Musk has sold himself as a “free speech absolutist” who ostensibly bought the platform for the purpose of opening it up to ideas across the spectrum and Ron DeSantis is the governor who is censoring educators, banning books, and retaliating against individuals, institutions and businesses that oppose those policies. You would think they would be enemies not comrades in arms.
As it turns out, Elon Musk may be a free speech absolutist in that he absolutely does allow every manner of freak, conman, porno hustler, liar, propagandist, goon, thug and saboteur free rein on the platform, but he will graciously allow foreign governments to censor their political opposition, something he tried and failed to prove the US Government had done against Donald Trump. And Musk has openly expressed his loathing for anyone and anything to the left of well… Ron DeSantis, so there is no doubt where he stands politically. Yes, he’s a tad incoherent, somehow believing that he’s non-ideological, but his prolific tweeting says otherwise.
Musk was always a troll on Twitter and said many stupid things. But like so many politically naive people who seem to have never developed any kind of bullshit detector, after wallowing in his newly created right-wing Twitter fever swamp, he’s gone full-blown, racist wingnut conspiracy monger and anti-semite. And as the owner of the company, he has the most followers on the platform — 140 million people — so he has quite a reach.
You can see why Tucker Carlson and Ron Desantis are eager to get on board. And they aren’t the only ones.
It was just announced that the vastly successful right-wing radio and podcast company The Daily Wire will be simulcasting some of its premium content on Twitter starting at the end of the month. (Apparently, the company has been penalized and suspended by other platforms such as Youtube and Facebook over misrepresentations and lies so they are going to the platform where nobody cares about such trifles.)
As for DeSantis, there is no politician on the planet more tuned into the online right than he is. In fact, his governorship and campaign are entirely based upon it. Every day he assails another aspect of the “woke” left by tuning into the latest obsessive outrage being passed around crazytown. At one point he even invited the noxious trans-hating “Libs of TikTok” tweeter to stay in the Florida governor’s mansion. I don’t know if he’s personally engaged online or has hired someone else to do it but his knowledge of arcane internet wingnuttia is impressive.
Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
However, he’s so immersed in this stuff that online is really the only place DeSantis makes sense —- in front of real people, he sounds like he’s speaking in some sort of extra-terrestrial corporate patois. As Tim Miller of the Bulwark pointed out, this is a problem:
He’s tied himself to policies such as a six-week abortion ban and “constitutional carry” that even many Republicans don’t support. On top of that, his current stump speech requires a Ph.D. in based online discourse to have any idea what he’s talking about.
To wit: At a convention in Utah last week, DeSantis went off on wokeness, DEI, and ESG without even bothering to define these terms for his audience. Here are a few examples from DeSantis going over his policy objectives for this session.
“We are going to kneecap ESG in the state of Florida. . . . We are also going to be the first state to eliminate DEI. . . . We are going to prohibit the implementation in Florida of any central bank digital currency.”
Sure, your super online MAGA, Qanon, anti-vaxxer may know what those acronyms mean but does the average working, rural, white Republican voter have the vaguest clue what he’s talking about? It’s not as if he has the sort of charismatic personality that could turn that dull jargon into a rallying cry as Trump did in 2016 when he adopted much of the talk radio issue agenda that had been pumped into the right’s homes and workplaces for decades. DeSantis’ lack of personality just makes all of that “anti-woke” blather sound, dare I say, boring. And I suspect that is exactly what tonight’s meeting of the warriors against the “woke mind virus” is going to be.
Remember DeSantis is really the second choice. Musk begged Trump to come back to Twitter with vulgar memes like this designed to entice the libertine ex-president:
Trump declined, preferring to stay with his sad Twitter clone, Truth Social. But who knows? Twitter Spaces is open to anyone. Maybe he’ll turn up tonight and throw a few insults DeSantis’ way at his big announcement. After all, Twitter is a free speech zone for lying, right-wing blowhards. Who’s going to stop him?