DeSantis's Pro-Anti-Vax Spin

Plus: The Facebook story is about to get bigger

Over the weekend, Florida’s Ron DeSantis suggested that his state would offer $5,000 signing bonuses to out-of-state cops who left their jobs because they had defied vaccine mandates.

Now DeSantis is furiously insisting that he did no such thing. “It’s for officers, period,” he now claims. “It has nothing to do with their vaccination status.” And anyone who suggests otherwise, is peddling a “false narrative.”

Well, you can take your own dive into DeSantis’ fancy fandango on the issue. Here’s a transcript of his conversation with Maria Bartiromo, where he talks about the bonuses quite clearly in the context of the vaccine mandates.

DeSantis is upset that you missed the subtlety, because the governor is all about nuance these days, as he executes his own tortured (some would say “cynical and reckless”) balancing act on the vaccine issue.

For months now, as Philip Bump notes, “DeSantis has tried to walk a line between the skepticism about vaccines that’s common in a very vocal part of the Republican base and the need to, you know, try to keep Floridians alive.”

His defenders insist that DeSantis has endorsed the use of the vaccines, and they take umbrage at any suggestion that the Florida wunderkind is playing political games with the lives of his own constituents. They prefer that you don’t pay attention to the rest of his elaborate dance. “Any time a member of the media writes about DeSantis’s approach to the vaccine,” Bump notes,” a member of his staff will huffily insist that the governor encouraged Floridians to get vaccinated. And he has. But he’s also been careful not to alienate the hard-right base on the subject.”

DeSantis is trying to pull this off by deploying a logic pretzel: He is not actually anti-vax. He is Pro-Anti-Vax, which (as Bump notes) is functionally the same thing.

What this means, as Jonathan Chait writes, is that, despite his angry denials, DeSantis “has clearly decided the anti-vaccine movement is his constituency. And if his actions cause Floridians to die, it’s a price he’s willing to pay to advance his political career.”

Chait lays out the case:

You can see DeSantis’s progression from anti-anti-anti-vaxxer to simple anti-vaxxer by observing the increasingly strident tone and content of his stances. DeSantis has:

blocked cruise lines from requiring their customers to be vaccinated. This stance is both a violation of traditional conservative deference to property rights (why should a business owner be forced to permit onto his property infected customers he doesn’t wish to serve?) and a practical economic threat to an important Florida industry (who in their right mind would set foot on a cruise ship that didn’t require everybody to have a vaccine?)

– blocked cities from requiring that their public employees get a vaccine. DeSantis threatened to impose a $5,000 fine per infraction on any Florida town that imposed a vaccine mandate on its city employees

– refused to participate in a federal plan to give $100 checks to everybody who got a vaccine

– appeared at a rally beside an anti-vaxxer who told the audience the vaccine “changes your RNA” and then declined to contradict this absurd claim when his turn came to speak

And then there is his new surgeon general, who has repeatedly voiced doubt about vaccines. DeSantis appeared with Dr. Joseph Ladopo when this happened:

Here’s what he said, as DeSantis looked on:

“People being forced to put something in their bodies that we don’t know all there is to know about yet. No matter what people on TV tell you, it’s not true. We’re going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines. We’re finding that some of these vaccines, the protection from infection is less than 40 percent,” he said, “We’re going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines, right?”

As JVL wrote last week:

This is one of those cases where the context makes it worse. Ladopo—sorry, Doctor Ladopo—is expressly talking about vaccination when he tells the general public that their “intuition and sensibilities” are the best guide for understanding complex health decisions.

And he does this after a mini-rant in which he tries to cast doubt on the safety of vaccines by saying, hey, we don’t know everything about them yet….

For a man of science to say that individual intuition matters more than data is ridiculous. For a doctor to talk this way about the COVID vaccines while 1,600 Americans are dying every day is unethical. For a doctor holding a public health position to do so for the benefit of his patron’s political aspirations borders on the criminal.

The DeSantis-stans will continue to insist that this criticism is unfair, and that the Florida governor is due all sorts of apologies. But, writes Chait, DeSantis has clearly decided that even “if his actions cause Floridians to die, it’s a price he’s willing to pay to advance his political career.”

And, given the state of the GOP today, it may even be enough to propel him to the White House.


Meanwhile, in the fever swamps:




Extra Bonus: Remember when Ronald Reagan fired the striking air traffic controllers? Something to keep in mind.

The yuge Facebook story is about to get even bigger.

Brian Stelter reports:

Last week the number of American news outlets with access to internal Facebook documents supplied to the SEC by Frances Haugen stood at 17. Those outlets -- from CNN to NYT, WIRED to Politico -- agreed to a Monday morning embargo, which is why more than 50 stories all came out on the same day.

There are many more stories in the works – and there are more newsrooms joining the consortium. Platformer's Casey Newton wrote Monday night that "a host of new publications joined the consortium today, ensuring another volley of coverage designed to squeeze more juice from the rind."

The Associated Press has a useful explainer here.

The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration among 17 American news organizations, including The Associated Press. Journalists from a variety of newsrooms, large and small, worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower.

A separate consortium of European news outlets had access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 25. That date and time was set by the partner news organizations to give everyone in the consortium an opportunity to fully analyze the documents, report out relevant details, and to give Facebook’s public relations staff ample time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by that reporting.

Each member of the consortium pursued its own independent reporting on the document contents and their significance. Every member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain information and context about the documents.

MAGA Comes for J.D.

A reminder that it’s never about the Trumpism, or the populism. It’s always about The Orange One. Via the Wapo:

Two super PACs supporting Mandel have launched nearly $1 million in ads hammering Vance’s past criticism of Trump. These include Vance’s admission that he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, and Vance’s descriptions of Trump as “noxious,” “reprehensible” and “an idiot.”

Vance has groveled for forgiveness for his anti-Trump apostasy, but those quotes live on. So he’s now arguing that he’s much more faithful to the ideology of Trumpism than Mandel is.

Vance’s mistake, of course, is thinking that the GOP cult has anything to do with ideology, or that groveling and deplorable cosplay makes up for the only thing that really matters…. disloyalty.

Quick Hits

1. Will Higher Inflation Lead to a Spike in Crime?

Brent Orrell, in today’s Bulwark:

Which brings us to today. With headline inflation rates more than double the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target and consumers and some businesses increasingly worried that rising prices are here to stay, Rosenfeld’s research takes on renewed relevance. If the inflation-crime connection bears out, the “spot” increases in thefts of catalytic converters, bikes, and lumber could spread widely to other products—adding a property crime surge to the increase in violent crime we have seen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. “The Liberty Way”: How Liberty University Discourages and Dismisses Students’ Reports of Sexual Assaults

Deeply disturbing piece by Hannah Dreyfus for ProPublica reports that “the school founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell ignored reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for breaking its moral code, say former students. An official who says he was fired for raising concerns calls it a ‘conspiracy of silence.’”

A few days later, Axley received another email from the university. It said that as the case was moving ahead for a final decision, Axley needed to sign a document acknowledging that she could be found to have violated the university’s code of conduct. The Liberty Way covers nearly all aspects of a student’s life and includes bans on drinking and “being in any state of undress with a member of the opposite sex.”

As the document that Axley received phrased it, by moving ahead with the case, Axley was acknowledging that she herself could face “possible disciplinary actions.”

Cheap Shots

You have to wonder what John McCain would make of his son-in-law’s rants. (Actually, you don’t have to wonder.)

Scary books.

A new ad for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin's campaign features a Fairfax parent who sought to have Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's 1987 classic novel "Beloved" removed from her son's school curriculum because it gave him nightmares….

Murphy, however, does not mention in the ad that her son was a high school senior at the time and that the book in question, assigned as part of his Advanced Placement English curriculum, was "Beloved," the vivid and wrenching novel about slavery in America that won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.