There have been a lot of ridiculous media hit pieces in the last year on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ management of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in his state, but NBC News published one on DeSantis’ “seniors first” vaccine distribution policy recently that really takes the cake.

Corky Siemaszko, whose Twitter feed reads like something you’d see from an unhinged Democrat, started out first by falsely proclaiming in his article that DeSantis “was slow to respond to the pandemic”:

Florida’s governor was slow to respond to the pandemic and his Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan has been marked by chaos, but critics say he’s been quick to recognize the political gold in those precious doses.

According to his critics, the “political gold” DeSantis supposedly “recognizes” is in prioritizing seniors over everyone else when it comes to who gets the coronavirus vaccine first. This was an actual paragraph that appeared on the website of a major news organization:

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, ignored federal guidelines and prioritized getting senior citizens — one of Florida’s most potent voting blocs — vaccinated first.

Got that? I mean the sheer nerve of Gov. DeSantis to prioritize vaccinating the hardest-hit group of people during the pandemic. How dare he?

What’s apparently even worse is that some of the communities that were prioritized included elderly Holocaust and Cuban Bay of Pigs survivors, which are “two other key Florida voting blocs”:

When Holocaust survivors and Cuban survivors of the Bay of Pigs debacle — revered members of two other key Florida voting blocs — got their first shots, DeSantis made sure he was there for the news conferences.

Siemaszko then pivots to suggesting DeSantis “threatened” to pull the vaccine from the communities after Democrat/media criticism over where the vaccines were being rolled out:

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” he said.


Earlier, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat, blasted DeSantis for threatening Manatee County.

“To threaten that he would pull vaccine if people don’t like the way the distribution system is working is vile and shows the callous indifference he has had in how the vaccine has been handled,” she said on Wednesday.

“Threatened” was a word used by other media outlets as well, including the Sun-Sentinel.

This is such a dumb and dishonest argument on so many levels. On one hand, his critics in the media and on the left are saying he’s prioritizing senior communities over first responders because of politics, but when he responds by suggesting he’ll pull the vaccine from those counties if that’s what they want, now all of a sudden he’s “callous” and “indifferent” to the suffering of senior communities.

DeSantis literally cannot win with these people.

For the record, here’s what DeSantis actually said in response to criticisms about vaccine distribution. The discerning reader will note that no “threat” was issued (ignore the text of the tweet, which is biased and incorrect). Instead, what DeSantis did here was to put the onus on his Democratic critics to make the call:

Then after quoting some Florida Democrats who were upset with DeSantis and finding a couple of Republicans to throw into the mix to make it sound “bipartisan,”  Siemaszko posted some coronavirus statistics for Florida and alleged they had “some of the worst numbers in the nation”:

Florida, according to the latest NBC News tally, has reported 1.84 million Covid-19 infections and nearly 30,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, some of the worst numbers in the nation.

Most of those infections and deaths came after DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, claimed victory over the virus during a White House visit in April and reopened the state over the objections of health experts.

In actuality, Florida numbers are not “some of the worst numbers in the nation” when analyzed per capita. They rank 27th in death rates per 100,000 people. As for case counts, Florida ranks 30th in case numbers per 100,000 people.

Also, in NBC News’ rush to dunk on DeSantis for prioritizing seniors, they made a key error that resulted in a correction added two days later to the piece:

CORRECTION (Feb. 20, 2021, 3:40 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article incorrectly suggested that the Lakewood Ranch development and [its] parent company, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, which is owned by the Illinois-based Uihlein family, had a connection to Dick Uihlein, a prominent donor to Gov. DeSantis. Dick Uihlein’s lawyer says he has no connection to Schroeder-Manatee or the Lakewood Ranch. That section has been removed from the article.

The conclusion we’re supposed to draw from the story is that Ron DeSantis is a bad guy or something because he put seniors first in the vaccination line, people who incidentally are also a key voting bloc for both parties:

For purposes of discussion, let’s say Andrew Cuomo prioritized the vaccine for women or in black or Hispanic communities, which are also key voting blocs. Do you think we’d hear criticism from NBC News or any other news network from them over Cuomo making that key voting bloc a priority? Of course not. I mean, it took them ten months to finally get around to noticing the nursing home controversy, which was and is an actual scandal.

Predictably, this was another hit piece designed to dent DeSantis’ political armor, not just in an attempt to once again paint him as the coronavirus villain over governors who actually have done a bad job, like Cuomo, but also because of 2024 considerations. DeSantis has been touted as a possible top presidential contender, and as a result, the Usual Suspects in the media and on the left are responding accordingly.

It’s especially remarkable when you think about how the media and Democrats routinely accused Trump and DeSantis last year of being willing to sacrifice seniors in order to reopen the economy. So the media and Democrats have almost quite literally done a full reversal from their previous “we must protect seniors!” stance. Sadly, for them it all boils down to politics.

As I’ve said before, these people are nothing if not shamelessly predictable.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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