At that, co-host Ainsley Earhardt turned to DeSantis, who was sitting at a desk in Palm Beach surrounded by a group of supporters. “I appreciate it,” said DeSantis of Jenner’s kind words.
There was a lot of appreciation in the air as DeSantis discussed how Florida has managed its rainy-day fund throughout the pandemic. “Wow,” commented one of the co-hosts. The “Fox & Friends” crew nodded along with other DeSantis talking points about unemployment, distribution of federal funds and the state’s treatment of police officers. “You support them,” said Earhardt.
Then co-host Brian Kilmeade showed just how scripted was this session:
So after the pandemic, governor, a lot of people loosened up the rules because a lot of people didn’t want to come out of the house. There were drop boxes, no-excuse mail-in balloting, and things to that nature. After years of struggling on Election Day and maybe extending it too long, most famously, in 2000, you guys pretty much pulled it off flawlessly the last time around and you were able to get the results in. Now it’s time for people to rein in and have a non-pandemic election. In over 30 states, they’ve made reforms. You’re doing the same thing. What’s going to be different about Florida’s election in 2022. What are you about to sign?
On cue, DeSantis, right there on “Fox & Friends,” signed Senate Bill 90, which curbs mail-in voting and the use of drop boxes, among other measures. “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,” DeSantis said.
The supporters alongside DeSantis cheered his words. Not included in the gathering were journalists who might like to attend such an event and perhaps ask questions with a bit more bearing on the public good than those coming from the curvy couch of “Fox & Friends.” Yet there was no media at the event aside from Fox News Media. Madeline Montgomery, a reporter with a CBS-affiliated local TV station in Florida, tweeted: “We’ve been at the Hilton since 4 this morning, only to be told we can’t go in to hear the governor speak or sign the elections bill. @CBS12.” Jay O’Brien, a reporter at the CBS station, confirmed the shut-out:
In a statement sent to the Erik Wemple Blog, Fox News said, “'FOX & Friends’ did not request or mandate that the May 6th event and interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) be exclusive to FOX News Media entities.”
What a laugher. There was no need for a request of a mandate. Bill signings are commonly held in official spaces, such as a mayor’s office, a governor’s mansion or the Rose Garden — places where members of a diverse set of media outlets can assemble, take pictures and toss a few questions after the ceremony concludes. The team at “Fox & Friends” knows all that. Or maybe they don’t. In any case, the failure to make thoroughgoing plans to accommodate other media outlets is a de facto act of exclusivity.
As he emerged from his TV appearance at the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach, DeSantis was asked about his “secrecy." He responded, “It was on national TV, it wasn’t secret.” The Erik Wemple Blog has asked his office about the arrangement but hasn’t received a response. DeSantis communications director Taryn Fenske didn’t say whether this was a campaign rally or an official event when asked by The Post. “It’s a public event, there’s a bunch of people from the area, it’s a bill signing, but it’s exclusively Fox,” Fenske told The Post’s Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa. “It was a decision between Fox and us.”
For the record, Kilmeade did ask the governor whether the state would allow drop boxes and cut back voting hours. DeSantis gave a brief response about the drop boxes — they need to be monitored — and that was it. “All right, joining us from Palm Beach County, Gov. Ron DeSantis. Sir, thank you very much for joining us live, with a very boisterous crowd, happy to be up and on TV with you. Thank you, sir.”
For four years, the great “Fox & Friends” innovation in sycophancy was to let then-President Donald Trump commandeer the program for “interviews” that gobbled up the better part of an hour. With that option no longer quite as compelling, the show has found another way of feeding its MAGA base — with a programming kiss to a governor widely seen as a successor to Trump. And despite all the flak that the governor may take for this exclusive — he was ambushed by local media after the event — this was a coup for Team DeSantis.
Think about it — if you’re a Republican governor, which would you prefer: a low-key signing ceremony that gets 10 seconds of airtime on a few regional TV news outlets, plus some tough questions from assembled reporters? Or an event blasted out to millions of like-minded Americans with nothing but caresses from famous TV personalities?