Corporate media’s insistence on identity politics had Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned six times on the former president’s use of a term “people…say hearkens back to Nazi Germany.”
(Video: NBC News)
Where there should be unity on Republican platform mainstays like limits on government overreach with differences on how principles are applied, discord has been sowed in the GOP presidential primary treating political opponents as rival factions.
One such example played out during DeSantis’ recent “Meet the Press” interview where NBC News host Kristen Welker repeatedly challenged the Florida executive on former President Donald Trump’s use of the word “vermin.”
“You bring up former President Donald Trump,” began Welker when the opportunity arose. “So, let me ask you about the GOP frontrunner. Mr. Trump is campaigning on the idea of retribution. He’s promising to jail his political enemies, if he’s re-elected. He’s also referred to some of his political opponents as ‘vermin,’ language that people, frankly, across the political spectrum, say hearkens back to Nazi Germany. Do you think that kind of language is presidential?”
Measure in his initial response, the governor boiled sought to present his perceived big picture difference from the president. “Well, I think even beyond that, the issue is is why are you running? Are you running for your personal issues? Are you running for the American people’s issues? And I’m running for the American people’s issues.”
As he vowed to end the weaponization of the federal government and employ a single standard of justice Welker rejected the premise citing denials from the very parties accused of abusing their authority and circled back to the issue of “vermin.”
“Governor, as you know, DOJ officials would reject the idea that it has been weaponized. But let me ask you about my original question, the use of the word ‘vermin.’ Are you comfortable with that term?”
“But are you comfortable with that term, Governor?” she repeated as DeSantis began to respond.
“Let me — let me just say on the DOJ — Well, first of all, I’m responsible for my — what I say. And I say things differently. But on the DOJ and the FBI-” he tried before she cut in once more, “But are you comfortable with that term?”
As she insisted on parsing Trump’s language, the governor shot back, “Excuse me. What I’m not — what I’m not comfortable with is FBI agents going after parents going to school board meetings. I’m not comfortable with DOJ, FBI, working with tech companies to censor dissent.”
Twice more Welker asked, “Do you condemn the use of the word ‘vermin,’ then?” prompting DeSantis to make clear, “I don’t use the term. But what I don’t do is play the media’s game, where I’m asked to referee other people. He’s responsible for his words. He’s responsible for his conduct. I’m responsible for mine.”
The NBC News host’s fixation on Trump’s use of the word had played out with other corporate media figures in November after the president had said it during his Veterans Day speech. “Now that one comment by Trump over the weekend sent the media into complete meltdown,” said Fox News host Laura Ingraham who played clips from MSNBC hosts associating the president with Adolf Hitler.
“Now, according to Grabien media, CNN and MSNBC have likened Trump to Hitler only 12 times so far today,” she noted. “Oddly, they haven’t labeled the antisemitic loons on college campuses with that same pejorative.”
Despite Welker’s efforts, DeSantis brought the focus back to contrasting his candidacy with Trump’s and went on, “More important than the choice of words is, why are you running? If he’s running for personal retribution, that is not gonna lead to what we need as a country. You gotta be running for the American people and their issues, not about your own personal issues, and that is a distinction between us. I am focused on the folks, I am focused on what they wanna see done for this country in a positive direction.”
“I’m the vessel, but ultimately,” the governor reminded, “it’s not about me.”
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