WORST OF 2023: The Damning Florida’s Dictator Award

December 29th, 2023 9:00 AM

It was a challenging task but an esteemed panel of NewsBusters editors led by MRC President L.Brent Bozell and MRC’s Vice President for Research and Publications Brent Baker boiled down all the biased outbursts from lefty hack hosts, anchors, reporters and pundits in 2023 and on December 18 announced The Brian Stelter Memorial Award for Quote of the Year.  

Of course, every year there is way too much bias for just one category. So Baker led a panel of NewsBusters editors to break down the Worst of 2023 into eight additional categories (The Craziest Analysis Award; The Damn Those Conservatives Award; The Joy of Hate Award for Joy Reid Rants; The Jihadist Journalism Award for Helping Hamas; The Damning Florida’s Dictator Award; The Praising and Protecting Old Joe Award; The Cursing the Conservative Court Award and the Celebrity Freak-Outs Award).  

Today we present the WORST OF 2023: The Damning Florida’s Dictator Award.

Without further ado here is the winner (followed by the top runners-up):





“We can’t talk about Jacksonville [shooting] without talking about the political environment around Black people and particularly around Black history in Florida. There is a reason Governor DeSantis was booed when he did the right thing by going to the community, but the community booed him for a reason, his so-called anti-woke legislation, what’s happening with the teaching of Black history in Florida public schools. That sends a message not only to the Black community that the governor does not think much of you or your history or your contributions to this country, but it also sends a signal to those people, deranged or not, who believe that Black people are inferior and therefore are worthy of extermination.”
Washington Post Editor/PBS contributor Jonathan Capehart on PBS’s NewsHour, September 1.


The following is a montage of the runners-up and winner:





“[Ron DeSantis] was known as sort of a nondescript political leader, member of Congress. Suddenly he really has tried to turn himself into sort of a local [Benito] Mussolini in Florida. With the book banning and the brutal tactics….This is fascism and authoritarianism that goes even beyond what [Donald] Trump has talked about. That’s what he thinks is gonna work in that party, and in a way, that’s the scariest thing of all.”
— MSNBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss on MSNBC’s Velshi, March 4.


“The NAACP has issued a travel advisory for Florida. It says the state is, quote, ‘openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals’ due to a series of measures recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis….I keep thinking about the black people that live there. I actually have two sisters that live in Florida, what this means for people who live there or people of color who are planning to go to Florida….It’s very unsettling to me on many levels.”
— Co-host Gayle King on CBS Mornings, May 23. 


“That word [authoritarianism] has a certain kind of historical timbre with it. We associate with, like, stern historical figures like [Joseph] Stalin or [Benito] Mussolini and that can make it hard to look at Mr. Pudding Fingers yukking it up on the campaign trail in Iowa and see an authoritarian. But Ron DeSantis really is running on an authoritarian agenda. The policies he has enacted in Florida are the opposite of freedom.”
— Host Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In, May 18.


“What he’s [Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] done is this kind of Orwellian plot to censor what is being taught in the classrooms….Kids can’t read books in classrooms because teachers are so scared they could get slapped with a felony….DeSantis has been insanely effective in….creating a climate of fear, and ultimately undermining a lot of the social and cultural progress that this country has seen.” 
— MSNBC Alex Wagner Tonight host Alex Wagner on NBC Late Night with Seth Meyers, January 27.


“Ron DeSantis scoffed when the NAACP issued a travel advisory this spring warning Black people to use ‘extreme care’ if traveling to Florida. The leading civil rights group argued that the state’s loose gun laws and the Republican governor’s ‘anti-woke’ campaign to deny the existence of systemic racism created a culture of ‘open hostility towards African Americans and people of color.’ Just three months later, DeSantis is leading his state through the aftermath of a racist attack that left three African Americans dead.” 
— AP reporters Steve Peoples and Brendan Farrington in the August 29 article “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces Black leaders’ anger after racist killings in Jacksonville.”