This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided to announce his 2024 presidential candidacy on Twitter Spaces, the newest feature on Elon Musk’s Twitter. Musk himself would be co-hosting the event, giving DeSantis access to Musk’s 141 million Twitter followers. Only after the Twitter launch will DeSantis begin the more typical campaigning, embarking on a series of campaign events across the nation.
DeSantis’ decision represents yet another blow to the power of the legacy media. Legacy media outlets have been fighting mad that DeSantis sees no purpose in granting them long-form interviews; while he’s happy to answer their questions – and to aggressively confront them – at press conferences, he simply does not trust that legacy media will ask decent questions or edit him fairly. Instead, DeSantis has merely ignored them.
That strategy has resulted in extraordinary hew and cry from our supposed journalistic establishment. This week, Tara Palmeri, senior political correspondent for Puck News, for example, attempted to confront DeSantis with a series of obtuse questions. “I am also Italian American like you,” she said, “if that makes any difference to you at all. Why are you against Disney characters? Which one is your favorite one?” When DeSantis declined to engage, she then called him a “paper tiger – a superficially perfect test-tube Republican candidate who, on closer inspection, is probably not ready for prime time.”
But perhaps primetime is entirely the problem. After all, it is primetime television that made glitz and glamour the center of our presidential politics, gave Donald Trump billions of dollars in free media coverage in 2016, then proceeded to label Trump a threat to the republic and a probable Russian asset. It was primetime television that elevated lies about covid, turning DeSantis into the Enemy of the People while championing disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a hero; that endlessly trumpeted the false narrative that black Americans are at dire daily threat from police, resulting in billions of dollars of damage from race riots; that ceaselessly promotes the notion that boys can be girls and vice versa.
The same legacy media that pushed those lies now pushes a bottomless well of lies about DeSantis as well: that his wife Casey is like Lady Macbeth; that Florida has banned gay Americans by passing a “Don’t Say Gay” bill that, in reality, merely prevents the sexual indoctrination of children; that black Americans are at existential threat in the state; that books are being banned at scale.
Why, precisely, should a politician like DeSantis trust them?
He doesn’t. And now, thanks to the open forum provided by Musk, he doesn’t need to use them to promote his candidacy. He can simply go directly to the people. This is merely an extension of the strategy Donald Trump used so successfully in 2016 when his Twitter account became the most magnetic media property on the planet – only now Trump has relegated himself to Truth Social, even after Musk reinstated his Twitter account.
In any case, the legacy media – instead of re-examining their own biases and asking just why candidates of the right refuse to appear on their air – have decided to target Musk and Twitter. They suggest that Musk is the newest threat to the republic – after all, if he weren’t, would DeSantis be using Twitter for his launch?
Conservatives no longer need the approval of reporters at The New York Times. They no longer need to suffer the indignities of skewed grilling at the hands of partisan hacks who work for the alphabet networks. Times have changed. And DeSantis’ Twitter launch is just the latest evidence.