On Thursday morning, Florida Governor and stunt queen Ron DeSantis appeared to sign a restrictive new voting rights bill live on Fox News morning show Fox and Friends. But Fox News is now claiming they were completely unprepared for the event, which aired exclusively on their network and was closed to all outside press. The Associated Press reports that Fox News released a statement saying they booked DeSantis’s appearance “as an interview and not as a live bill signing. Neither the network, nor the show, requested or mandated the event be exclusive to Fox News Media entities.”
Not only that, but according to DeSantis’s spokeswoman Taryn Fenske, DeSantis didn’t actually sign the bill on camera, and that the whole event was “purely ceremonial.”
This isn’t the first time Republican DeSantis has used Fox News as his own personal public relations vehicle.
From the Associated Press:
Fox News is clearly the network of choice for Republican politicians, as Donald Trump illustrated time and again during his presidency, but staging a semi-official event for Fox’s cameras is highly unusual.
Still, it wasn’t the first time the governor, who is up for reelection next year and is widely viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, has used Fox for photo ops before.
In January, the governor found himself backtracking after a Fox appearance in which he claimed that a 100-year-old World War II veteran he invited with him would be the 1 millionth senior in his state to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot in the arm. In fact, it took several more days for the state to hit that milestone. DeSantis’ office later said the event was meant to be symbolic of the achievement.
On Thursday, the governor did not acknowledge the theatrics. He celebrated “a wonderful bill signing for this great elections bill” that “millions” could watch, including Floridians.
But while Thursday’s charade may have been just another stunt, the law itself is a very real effort to make voting more difficult in the state of Florida.
DeSantis boasted that the new election law is “the strongest election integrity measure” in the nation. It aims to curb mail-in voting by restricting when ballot drop boxes can be used, making sure they’re guarded at all times, and only making them available when election offices and early voting sites are open. In other words, if your work shift ends at 11 p.m. and you want to drop your ballot off on your way home, you won’t be able to because the in-person election offices and voting locations will likely be closed. The law also puts tougher restrictions on voter I.D. requirements for vote-by-mail, prohibits the mailing of ballots to those who do not specifically request an absentee, as well as a laundry list of other unnecessary obstructions to what should be a seamless voting process.
This is all meant to tackle widespread voter fraud, a phenomenon that does not exist, despite former President Trump’s insistence to the contrary. But DeSantis and many other Republican governors who have passed restrictive voting bills in the last few months don’t care about the truth, they care about pleasing Trump, and pleasing Trump pleases their right-wing base.
“Me signing this bill says, ‘Florida, your vote counts, your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency and this is a great place for democracy,’” De Santis said following the signing.
A great place for democracy for whom?