On her new weekend show, MSNBC host Katie Phang did her part to push for the defeat of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as she trashed the Florida Republican's agenda as "hard right," and provided a softball forum for his likely opponent, political turncoat and Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL).
On Saturday's eponymous show, she provided a forum to two Democratic state legislators -- Michele Raynor and Jason Pizzo -- to complain about the recently passed parental rights bill, deriding it as the "don't say gay" law. Phang began the segment by noting that Ohio and Alabama have pushed bills that are "disturbingly similar."
She soon added:
So the "don't say gay" bill isn't an outlier. Republicans in Florida have been laser focused on some of the most divisive, hard-right, populist policies the nation has seen in recent times. A bill nicknamed the "Stop WOKE Act" would prevent workplaces or schools from making people feel, "discomfort" when it comes to topics like racism. And then there's the recently enacted law banning transgender girls from female sports.
Even though such laws try to prevent the state -- in the form of school employees -- from imposing views on students against the will of parents, Phang suggested Republicans were being hypocritical as she added: "This is coming from the party that claims to stand for limited government and freedom of speech."
She then brought aboard her Democratic guests to ask them what their party is doing to oppose Republicans in Florida.
And on Sunday, Phang brought on Crist live as a guest to promote his "nice guy" campaign against Governor DeSantis whom she accused of "bullying." The MSNBC host set up the segment:
As you know, I'm based in Miami, and yesterday, on our first show, I had a fascinating conversation with some state lawmakers about how Florida has become the epicenter of America's culture wars. With Republican Don -- Ron DeSantis at the helm, the Sunshine State has been taking up some of the nation's most divisive, hard-right policies, but I want to know: Can Democrats turn this thing around?
In posing questions to her Democratic guest, the only pressing that he got was from the left as she wondered if Democrats have been playing too nice compared to Republicans and wondered if his history of being a Republican in the past would hurt him:
[T]here's been criticism that the Democrats just don't take the gloves off -- that they're not fighting back as aggressively and as tough as they should be and that's not just local politics -- that's nationally. Do you think the "nice guy" approach that you have is necessarily going to resonate with voters at this time?
Phang noted that Governor DeSantis had not responded to her invitation to be on her show, but, given the negative treatment he has received from both her and other MSNBC hosts, it's not surprising that he would have not wasted his time showing up just to be badgered.
This newest liberal MSNBC show was sponsored in part by The Farmer's Dog. Their contact information is linked.
MSNBC's The Katie Phang Show
April 9, 2022
7:30 a.m. Eastern
KATIE PHANG: So it may have sparked nationwide backlash, but that didn't stop state lawmakers in Ohio and Alabama to move on bills this week that are disturbingly similar to Florida's so-called "don't say gay" bill which, as we know, bans discussions on gender and sexual identity in classes kindergarten through third grade. Governor Ron DeSantis recently signing the controversial bill into law despite his own acknowledgement that these conversations rarely happen in the classroom.
GOVERNOR RON DeSANTIS (R-FL) [on 02/07/22]: -- to get into situations where you're not having the parent -- you're hiding things from the parent -- you're injecting these concepts about choosing your gender. That is just inappropriate for our schools, and so I don't support that going on. I don't think it's going on in large numbers --
PHANG: He doesn't think it's going on in large numbers. So the "don't say gay" bill isn't an outlier. Republicans in Florida have been laser focused on some of the most divisive, hard-right, populist policies the nation has seen in recent times. A bill nicknamed the "Stop WOKE Act" would prevent workplaces or schools from making people feel, "discomfort" when it comes to topics like racism. And then there's the recently enacted law banning transgender girls from female sports. This is coming from the party that claims to stand for limited government and freedom of speech.
Politico is dubbing Florida "ground zero for America's culture wars" for the sole purpose of rallying the base going into the midterms and beyond. But to what end? And what are the Democrats doing to fight back? Let's explore that with my panelists -- State Representative Michele Raynor and State Senator Jason Pizzo -- both from Florida. Thank you all for being here. Michele, I've laid out the most prominent recent examples, but we're also seeing book banning at record levels, the mainstreaming of abortion bans -- I mean, the list is just red meat for Republicans. What are Democrats doing to combat this?
MSNBC's The Katie Phang Show
April 10, 2022
7:48 a.m. Eastern
KATIE PHANG: As you know, I'm based in Miami, and yesterday, on our first show, I had a fascinating conversation with some state lawmakers about how Florida has become the epicenter of America's culture wars. With Republican Don -- Ron DeSantis at the helm, the Sunshine State has been taking up some of the nation's most divisive, hard-right policies, but I want to know: Can Democrats turn this thing around?
Well, this gentleman thinks he can. Florida Congressman Charlie Crist is once again running for governor, but this time as a Democrat. Back in 2009, Crist was a Republican, and, as governor, he introduced newly elected President Obama, who was in town to give a speech on his massive economic stimulus plan. They hugged barely for a second, but fellow Republicans weren't having it. He got a ton of backlash. He left the party, saying that hug killed his Republican career. Fast forward to 2022, the GOP had evolved from Tea Party to Trumpism -- civility has taken a back seat.
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If Stacey Abrams is elected governor of Georgia, I just want to be honest. There will be a cold war between Florida and Georgia at that point. I mean, I can't have Castro to my south and Abrams to my north. That would be a disaster.
DESANTIS (in front of student group): You don't have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it's not doing anything, and we've got to stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.
DESANTIS (on Fox News Channel): -- when you're trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, and we view that as a significant threat. This wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated.
PHANG: So it's that kind of rhetoric that has Charlie Crist running on his "nice guy" reputation. As Politico puts it, "the bet in the end is that the playbook that worked for Joe Biden against Donald Trump in 2020 can work here again with Crist against DeSantis in 2022." But will that work in a state like Florida? So far, DeSantis has reportedly raised more than $100 million for his campaign, and polls routinely show him as the second most popular potential presidential candidate for the Republican ticket after Trump. We should note, we asked the governor to come on for an interview or to provide a statement. We have not heard yet back from him.
With me now, though, is Democrat Congressman Charlie Crist. Congressman, we are honored to have you with us this morning. You know, some Floridians are saying that they are disgusted with Governor DeSantis's bullying behavior and attitude. I know they told you that. You're known, though, for your more calm temperament, and you've announced that you're running on decency and mutual respect -- two great principles -- but, Cong -- do you really think that's going to win the day here? Are you going to sue the DeSantis beast into submission?
[CONGRESSMAN CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL)]
PHANG: Congressman, with some specificity, can you tell us what you plan to do to help Democrats combat policies like the one you just mentioned -- the "don't say gay" bill and the "Stop the WOKE" bill and others that have been advanced by a GOP-led Florida legislature?
PHANG: Congressman, we did talk a little bit ago, and you've heard that the divisiveness that exists in politics today. It's certainly different than perhaps what you were confronted with before. You know, there's been criticism that the Democrats just don't take the gloves off -- that they're not fighting back as aggressively and as tough as they should be and that's not just local politics -- that's nationally. Do you think the "nice guy" approach that you have is necessarily going to resonate with voters at this time?
PHANG: So you were a Republican until 2010 -- you served as a Republican AG in Florida and then as a Republican governor. You then became a Democrat in 2012. In a day and age with such divisive politics, with clear lines being drawn on the battlefield, do you think that your party affiliation history is going to create any liability for you in this race?
PHANG: Although you are leading the Democratic pack at this time, for the first time in Florida, Congressman, in the first time in Florida history, there are more registered Republicans than there are registered Democrats. How are you going to overcome something that may end up being for you, unfortunately, just a pure numbers problem?
PHANG: Well, Congressman Charlie Crist, maybe your next photo op should be you and Mickey Mouse at Disney World. [CRIST LAUGHS] I'm sure that'll rile up Ron DeSantis. Thank you for your time this Sunday morning, and thanks for joining us.