GMA Hypes ‘Firestorm,’ ‘Cries of Racism’ Against DeSantis

On Thursday, ABC’s Good Morning America ran wild with Democratic claims of racism against Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, hyping a “fierce backlash” and “firestorm” over the GOP congressman using a common expression during an interview on Wednesday while discussing the left-wing policies of his African-American opponent.

“Fierce backlash. The firestorm this morning over what this Republican candidate in Florida said about his African-American opponent’s agenda,” proclaimed co-host George Stephanopoulos at the top of the broadcast. Following a soundbite of DeSantis warning Florida voters not to “monkey up” the state’s prosperous economy by supporting his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum’s socialist agenda, Stephanopoulos added: “New charges of racism. Is President Trump the new role model for Republican candidates?”

As the anchor smeared DeSantis, the headline on screen blared: “Cries of Racism; Fierce Backlash.”

 

 

The story actually led the morning show, with fill-in co-host Cecilia Vega declaring: “We do want to begin this morning with that firestorm over comments from a Republican candidate in Florida. He is President Trump’s pick in that high-stakes race and he is now accused of using racially charged language targeting his African-American opponent.”

Correspondent Victor Oquendo asserted: “This race between two very different candidates has barely begun and already we have a controversy.” Later in the segment, the reporter touted the immediate partisan attacks against DeSantis: “The backlash to those words, ‘monkey this up,’ instant. The head of the Florida Democratic Party declaring, ‘It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.’”

Only a single sentence was given to the Republican’s defense: “Team DeSantis saying he was referring to Gillum’s policies calling the claims of racism, quote, ‘absurd.’” Instead, more time was devoted to Gillum slamming DeSantis: “Overnight, Gillum responding to his opponent, not mincing words.” A clip followed of the Tallahassee mayor telling CNN anchor Chris Cuomo:

He’s apparently given up the whistle. They’ve gone to the bull horn with these kinds of tactics. But they’re not going to work. We tried this one time, Donald Trump. This is a page from his playbook.

The rest of report focused on trying to force President Trump to weigh in on the issue: “When asked on Wednesday about DeSantis’s comments, the president said that he had not heard them, but spoke highly of DeSantis.” Vega returned to that point: “He was asked point blank if he’d heard these comments. He said no, despite the fact that this was all over the news.” Oquendo lamented: “That’s right, Cecilia, and the President has still not weighed in on this.”

Unlike ABC, CBS This Morning led with the heat wave across the nation and the upcoming memorial service for late Arizona Senator John McCain. However, minutes later in the 7:00 a.m. ET hour, a full report was devoted to the DeSantis controversy. Co-host John Dickerson noted: “Florida’s Republican nominee for governor is under fire for a remark that Democrats describe as racially charged.” Like Oquendo, correspondent Manuel Bojorquez promoted Democratic attack lines: “The head of Florida’s Democratic Party has called those comments ‘disgusting’ and accused DeSantis of making ‘racist dog whistles.’ The state’s NAACP is demanding an apology.”

Bojorquez interviewed Gillum for the segment and teed him up to bash DeSantis: “On Fox News, Ron DeSantis used some language this morning that some have labeled as racist. Do you think his comments were racist?” Gillum predictably responded:

I’ve seen these kind of ploys and tactics before. I do think it is beneath the intelligence of Floridians....I believe that the citizens and the residents of this state are going to send a very convincing message on November 6th that we reject that kind of hatred.

Like the ABC report, attention then turned to the White House: “The President reiterated his support for DeSantis on Wednesday, but did not address DeSantis’s controversial comments.” A back and forth between CNN’s Jim Acosta and Trump was featured:

JIM ACOSTA [CNN]: Ron DeSantis, the candidate you endorsed, he said that it’s not time to “monkey around” with the economy down in Florida.

DONALD TRUMP: No, I didn’t hear it, honestly.            

ACOSTA: DeSantis may have made a racist comment there.

TRUMP: Yeah, I didn’t hear that, Jim.

NBC’s Today show began with coverage of memorial services for John McCain. The DeSantis story was mentioned minutes later, but not in a full segment. In part, correspondent Hallie Jackson echoed the same talking points that her colleagues seized upon:

So Florida Democrats describe those comments, that phrase “monkey this up,” as “disgusting,” as “racist dog whistles.” DeSantis’s campaign insists, and I’m quoting here, “The candidate was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses, to characterize it as anything else is absurd.” So what does Gillum say about all this? He says he thinks Florida is better than this.

If Thursday’s slanted network coverage pushing such a nasty accusation against a Republican candidate is any indication, how can the media possibly be trusted to report fairly on the midterms?

Here is a full transcript of the August 30 report on ABC’s Good Morning America:

7:00 AM ET TEASE

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Fierce backlash. The firestorm this morning over what this Republican candidate in Florida said about his African-American opponent’s agenda.

REP. RON DESANTIS [R-FL]: The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: New charges of racism. Is President Trump the new role model for Republican candidates? What the president is saying this morning.

7:02 AM ET SEGMENT

CECILIA VEGA: We do want to begin this morning with that firestorm over comments from a Republican candidate in Florida. He is President Trump’s pick in that high-stakes race and he is now accused of using racially charged language targeting his African-American opponent. This, of course, just one day after their primary there. ABC’s Victor Oquendo leads us off from Miami. Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR OQUENDO: Good morning, Cecilia. This race between two very different candidates has barely begun and already we have a controversy.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Candidate Accused of Racism; Firestorm Over “Monkey This Up”]

Just hours after Andrew Gillum became Florida’s first ever African-American nominee for governor –  

ANDREW GILLUM: We’re going to unite this state in ways that are unparalleled in the history of the state of Florida.

OQUENDO: His Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, went on the attack.

REP. RON DESANTIS [R-FL]: The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.

OQUENDO: DeSantis also saying this about his opponent:

DESANTIS: This is a guy who – although he’s much too liberal for Florida, I think he’s got huge problems with how he’s governed Tallahassee – you know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views and he’s a charismatic candidate.

OQUENDO: The backlash to those words, “monkey this up,” instant. The head of the Florida Democratic Party declaring, “It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.”

Team DeSantis saying he was referring to Gillum’s policies calling the claims of racism, quote, “absurd.” Their statement read on Fox News, but the anchor adding this.

SANDRA SMITH: We do not condone this language.

OQUENDO: Congressman DeSantis winning the nomination, powered by his allegiance to President Trump.

[CLIP OF DESANTIS PRO-TRUMP CAMPAIGN AD]
        
OQUENDO: When asked on Wednesday about DeSantis’s comments, the president said that he had not heard them, but spoke highly of DeSantis.

DONALD TRUMP: He is an extreme talent, and he will make a fantastic governor of Florida.

OQUENDO: Before he won the nomination, Trump endorsing DeSantis, even speaking at a campaign event.

TRUMP: He’s tough, he’s smart, and he loves Florida and he loves our country.

OQUENDO: Overnight, Gillum responding to his opponent, not mincing words.

MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM [D-FL]: He’s apparently given up the whistle. They’ve gone to the bull horn with these kinds of tactics. But they’re not going to work. We tried this one time, Donald Trump. This is a page from his playbook.

VEGA: Victor, we saw the President there in your piece. Let’s go back to that quickly. He was asked point blank if he’d heard these comments. He said no, despite the fact that this was all over the news.

OQUENDO: That’s right, Cecilia, and the President has still not weighed in on this. When asked, he called DeSantis “extraordinary” and said he would make a “fantastic governor.” Cecilia?

VEGA: Okay, Victor, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the August 30 report on CBS This Morning:

7:12 AM ET

JOHN DICKERSON: Florida’s Republican nominee for governor is under fire for a remark that Democrats describe as racially charged. Congressman Ron DeSantis said voters would, quote, “monkey up” the state’s recent economic success if they elect his African-American opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Manuel Bojorquez is in Tallahassee, where he spoke with Gillum. Manuel, good morning.

MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: Good morning. The head of Florida’s Democratic Party has called those comments “disgusting” and accused DeSantis of making “racist dog whistles.” The state’s NAACP is demanding an apology. But DeSantis says his comments were simply misunderstood.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: FL Governor’s Race; GOP Nominee Accused of Racial Remark]

REP. RON DESANTIS [R-FL]: The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.

BOJORQUEZ: That comment by Ron DeSantis Wednesday came in response to a question about his opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Florida’s first black gubernatorial nominee.

[TO GILLUM]: On Fox News, Ron DeSantis used some language this morning that some have labeled as racist. Do you think his comments were racist?

MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM [D-FL]: Well, I’ll just say, I've been in politics a long time. I’ve seen these kind of ploys and tactics before. I do think it is beneath the intelligence of Floridians.

BOJORQUEZ: Gillum links DeSantis’s language to his most high-profile supporter.

DONALD TRUMP: Everybody needs to support Ron DeSantis.

BOJORQUEZ: President Donald Trump.

GILLUM: I believe that the citizens and the residents of this state are going to send a very convincing message on November 6th that we reject that kind of hatred.

BOJORQUEZ: The President reiterated his support for DeSantis on Wednesday, but did not address DeSantis’s controversial comments.

JIM ACOSTA [CNN]: Ron DeSantis, the candidate you endorsed, he said that it’s not time to “monkey around” with the economy down in Florida.

DONALD TRUMP: No, I didn’t hear it, honestly.            

ACOSTA: DeSantis may have made a racist comment there.

TRUMP: Yeah, I didn’t hear that, Jim.

BOJORQUEZ: Gillum is an outspoken progressive.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: Elect this man as the next governor of this state!

BOJORQUEZ: And was endorsed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. DeSantis says his comments were about just that, Gillum’s politics.

DESANTIS: It has zero to do with race, Sean. It has everything to do with whether we want Florida to continue to go in a good direction, building off the success, or do we want to turn to left-wing socialist policies.

BOJORQUEZ: Our request to interview DeSantis was declined but his campaign did say that any attempt to characterize his comments as racist were quote, “absurd.” There are 68 days until voters here head to the polls. Norah?  

O’DONNELL: Alright, Manuel, thank you.

Here is a transcript of the August 30 news brief on NBC’s Today show:

7:08 AM ET

(...)

CRAIG MELVIN: There’s also this controversy that’s surrounding this Senate race [sic] down in Florida. What’s happening there?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Candidate’s “Monkey” Firestorm; DeSantis “Monkey This Up” Remark Draws Criticism]

HALLIE JACKSON: Yeah, the race for the governor that we talked about just yesterday, Craig, on this show. So today, the race is only in day two but already there is an uproar after what was an upset set on both sides of the aisle. You had Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis winning his primary. It means he’s now going up against the progressive mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, the first African-American major party nominee for governor in Florida history and the guy who shocked the establishment with his surprise win.

So here is what DeSantis said, watch.

REP. RON DESANTIS [R-FL]: You know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views. The last thing we need to do is up monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.  

JACKSON: So Florida Democrats describe those comments, that phrase “monkey this up,” as “disgusting,” as “racist dog whistles.” DeSantis’s campaign insists, and I’m quoting here, “The candidate was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses, to characterize it as anything else is absurd.” So what does Gillam say about all this? He says he thinks Florida is better than this.

(...)


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