Ron DeSantis may break his thaw with the media: The Florida governor has rarely given interviews to the mainstream media since he emerged as a potential presidential candidate. But a new report says that may be about to change.
Ron DeSantis Is Changing Strategy
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, after nearly two years of looking like a future presidential candidate, is set to finally announce his 2024 presidential candidacy this week.
Ever since his name first emerged as a possible presidential candidate, DeSantis has rarely spoken to the national news media, or to any outlets that are not explicitly conservative. At the same time, DeSantis has frequently railed against the press.
Now, there is a report that Ron DeSantis might be adjusting that strategy.
According to Semafor, “After weeks of relentlessly negative coverage of his nascent campaign, his staff have quietly begun the traditional campaign work of providing access for reporters and input for their stories.”
This doesn’t mean that DeSantis is about to sit for a live interview on CNN or with the New York Times. Instead, the thawing of relations has been more along the lines of the pro-DeSantis super PAC reaching out to individual reporters and introducing them to staffers.
“I’m so pushing media engagement. He can’t operate like he did in FL,” a DeSantis source told Semafor. “”They have been super guarded in Florida, which I think worked very well for them there in a state environment… It’d be one thing if we were leading or [if] we’re only down five.”
In Florida, Ron DeSantis engages regularly with a cluster of pro-Republican blogs.
DeSantis’ future opponent, Donald Trump, recently sat for a live town hall on CNN, his first live exclusive appearance on CNN in more than five years. Trump spent much of his original candidacy and later his presidency railing against the media, but at the same time, he also spent a great deal of time cultivating media members and paying a great deal of attention to how he came across on television and in newspapers.
Simply not speaking to the media at all, while at the same time trying to rile up anger at the media among supporters, is a strategy embraced by many other candidates since Trump’s rise, often to minimal success.
DeSantis, at least so far, has not spoken to national reporters during his campaign jaunts, even some who have traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire to cover his appearances there.
“His staff have followed his lead enthusiastically, aggressively publicly admonishing reporters who publish critical coverage of the governor,” the Semafor story said. “The hardball tactics of the governor’s office already have pushed some national journalists on the beat to be more careful: Two of the 2024 campaign reporters said they don’t send any emails or texts to the governor’s office they wouldn’t think would end up in an angry or mocking tweet from his press staff.”
However, that strategy doesn’t appear to have been one that’s worked for DeSantis in the run-up to his campaign announcement. DeSantis is far behind Trump, according to the latest Morning Consult poll published last week, with the former president leading the Republican nomination contest with 61 percent support, compared to just 18 percent for the Florida governor. It represents Trump’s largest lead since the tracking poll launched late last year. Trump has always led, but the poll, six months ago, had Trump leading 47-30 over DeSantis.
If DeSantis does end up sitting down for network interviews, Semafor reported that some with ABC News are concerned they won’t get access to the governor due to his bitter legal battle with Disney, which owns ABC.
Also, last week, Politico published a profile of DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis. The piece depicted her as a political wife activist in her husband’s political rise, but also as someone with whom aides to the governor often clashed.
While some on social media blamed “the left” for the Politico piece, it was pretty clearly sourced by pro-Trump forces, with several on-the-record quotes from Roger Stone.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.