‘Warning Signs’; Nets Cheer ‘Trouble on the Trail’ for ‘Struggling’ DeSantis

July 17th, 2023 4:02 PM

On Sunday night and Monday morning, the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC linked arms in an attempt to mortally wound Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) presidential campaign, painting him as a dead-man walking and the primary over. In doing so, the liberal media can shift to trashing Donald Trump and doing what they did in 2020: helm another successful Joe Biden campaign.

The stories were as if they were scripted by the Biden and Trump campaigns with DeSantis being referred and painted as “falling short” of getting off the ground, lacking “strength,” off-message, “stagnating,” “struggling,” in “trouble,” and beset with “warning signs.” Translation? The liberal media are terrified of DeSantis.



The smear campaign began on Sunday’s World News Tonight with ABC anchor Linsey Davis bragging that DeSantis was “shak[ing] up his presidential campaign, cutting several staff members.” 

“Did his team underestimate Donald Trump’s hold on the GOP base,” she wondered.

As all three networks did, correspondent MaryAlice Parks also cheered “the major shake-up” with “DeSantis already cut about a dozen staffers” after “fac[ing]...the reality...he had been quickly burning through cash.”

And, as the other networks would do, she ignored the fact that two staffers left to staff an upcoming pro-DeSantis group and the others have had their resumes sent to the main DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down (which has raised over $100 million, but that was left out too).

Parks even cherrypicked one voter from an Iowa event, who told DeSantis he’d like him to “talk more about the kitchen table issues” and claimed DeSantis has ignored the economy because “DeSantis lobb[ed] very personal attacks instead” at Joe Biden during a Saturday speech in Tennessee.

She even tried to make rivals Chris Christie (with only $1.3 million), Nikki Haley, and Tim Scott seem more stable despite raising far less money. Naturally, she omitted totals for Haley ($5.3 million) and Scott ($5.8 million) to DeSantis’s $20.1 million.

Fast-forward to Monday’s Good Morning America and there was co-host and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulous to paint DeSantis as a dead-man walking: “[A] shake-up for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s campaign. He’s struggling to get on track, cutting staff as new numbers show his campaign is burning through cash.”

Despite the first GOP debate being a month away and the Iowa caucuses five months away, Scott painted the race as over due to “early warning signs for...DeSantis,” who’s “now faced with the reality that he’s burning through too much cash too quickly”.

Scott also peddled the claims about layoffs and tried to blame the cash-flow on “private air travel.” 

Only in the second-to-last sentence did Scott focus on what a more pertinent matter, which is hitting 40,000 unique donors to qualify for the August GOP debate with “former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson...struggling to” reach it.

CBS Mornings was also dishonest. Socialist co-host Tony Dokoupil began by touting “the new indication that Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida may be falling short in his effort to stop former President Donald Trump.”

He then added that “Trump raised nearly twice as much money as his main Republican rival in the months of April, May, and June.” Correspondent Ed O’Keefe joined in, citing Trump’s $35 million in the quarter to DeSantis’s roughly $20 million, which he called “a good haul, but there are signs of trouble”.

What they left out was the fact that DeSantis only declared on May 24, so he wasn’t even around for more than half that period. But when looking at June, DeSantis led the GOP field with Trump in second at $17.7 million and even beat President Biden’s $19.9 million.

But, as many keen observers noted (see here, here, here, and here), the facts are being left out.

After he cited the ten staffers “laid off” as proof of “fresh questions about the strength of his campaign,” O’Keefe did pivot to bigger issues for other candidates (click “expand”):

O’KEEFE: The latest filings show other GOP contenders far behind in the money race. Candidates need at least 40,000 individual donors to qualify for the first GOP debate in August. So far, just six of them say they have. Former Vice President Mike Pence isn’t one of them, but says he’ll make the cut despite raising less than $1.2 million in his first three weeks.

MIKE PENCE: I just announced a month ago. I mean, I — give me some time.


O’KEEFE: So again, we said President Biden and the Democrats are leading in the money race, and he’s doing very well among wealthier donors who can max out to his campaign. Where there isn’t as much support just yet, at least compared to past campaigns, is among those that give about $200 or less. Those are the ones you can go back to over and over again and ask for money over the course of the campaign, Nate. All of it a sign he’s got to continue to boost enthusiasm amongst his supporters.

NBC was all in the tank to end DeSantis. Co-host Savannah Guthrie boasted in a tease: “Trouble on the trail? A major shakeup for Republican hopeful Ron DeSantis, cutting campaign staff just weeks before the first debate. What it means for him and the 2024 race.”

Senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson tut-tutted that “this x-ray that we’re getting in for the Florida governor, Savannah, seems to contain a couple of warning signs” and ignored the money raised leading the field to instead focus on money spent.

After touching on the staffing changes to paint an image of the DeSantis campaign as too large (“nearly 100 people on staff...dozens more than his competitors...by far”), Jackson insisted it’s a reality and not a media-manufactured narrative that DeSantis is struggling:

DeSantis himself in a new interview describes a media narrative for this discussion that perhaps he’s stagnating, but the reality is, Savannah, he has struggled to gain some ground on the former president in polls so far. That’s the reality for him.

Varad Mehta said it best on this narrative: “The media since March: ‘DeSantis is struggling/faltering/collapsing/tanking/crashing.’ Also the media: ‘A negative narrative is taking hold about his campaign.’ No kidding.”

At least Guthrie and Jackson spent time on the struggles of other candidates (click “expand”):

GUTHRIE: Well, all of the Republican candidates in the field right now are trying to get to the first debate. They have to have a certain kind of fundraising, they have to be somewhere in the polls, they have to meet this threshold. At this point in time, who has made the stage?

JACKSON: We don’t know for sure yet because there are still, you know, some weeks for this to play out. The next debate is just over a month — a month away. But, as you said, there are a bunch of factors that play in. There’s this different criteria. Part of it is you have to have, let’s say, 40,000 unique donors. That means 40,000 people from all over the country have had to have donated to your campaign. We’re looking at these new numbers that show, for example, Asa Hutchinson, Frances Suarez, former Congressman Will Hurd, these folks still have a long way to go. They could maybe still get there, but feels like a very, very uphill climb for them. Former Vice President Mike Pence, interestingly, is signaling he’s looking to hit the bar of 40,000 donors. But he seems very confident that he’s going to be on the stage.

The networks engaging in election interference and wishcasting a Trump vs. Biden match was made possible thanks to advertisers such as BMW (on NBC), Google (on ABC and CBS), and Liberty Mutual (on ABC). Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

To see the relevant transcripts form July 16 and 17, click here (for ABC’s World News Tonight), here (for ABC’s Good Morning America), here (for CBS Mornings), and here (for NBC’s Today).