In an attempt to position herself as the remedy to Florida’s current administration, Democratic candidate for Florida governor and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried may have just poisoned the well by attaching her bid to actor turned political provocateur Alyssa Milano.
Participating in an Instagram Live event on Monday, Fried did more harm to her gubernatorial campaign, pushing unsubstantiated claims against Governor Ron DeSantis while doing little to convince the nearly 200,000 people watching why she is the right choice to knock off the Republican in 2022. Fried reached back into her political playbook during the 30-minute interview, running an all-too-familiar play lambasting the Governor’s leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic and even going as far to suggest that he may be manipulating data in the Sunshine State.
Starting the interview, Milano wasted little time chiding DeSantis and other caucasian male officials, labeling many of them as ‘white dudes’ who are only concerned with accumulating power.
“It seems like a lot of white dudes who run for office have this — even if it didn’t start out as this — need for power. It seems to dissolve eventually into needing power,” Milano asserted, before asking the lone statewide Democrat what she would do differently than DeSantis to curtail the virus.
Instead of listing an alternative approach, Fried answered vaguely before attacking DeSantis for failing to focus on positive cases and not being more active on Twitter.
“Everything. I mean, like, just literally everything,” Fried cryptically answered before turning the conversation back to DeSantis. “He stopped reporting on COVID in June. He stopped giving daily numbers. Somebody said today he hasn’t tweeted about COVID in 18 weeks.
“It’s like there’s no pandemic. He doesn’t talk about hospitalizations; he doesn’t talk about death. He doesn’t encourage people to get the vaccine,” Fried falsely claimed.
While it is true that DeSantis has avoided pandemic politics and declined to instill coronavirus fear, he has consistently used his platform to educate people about the benefits of monoclonal antibody treatments — Regeneron’s antibody therapy (REGEN-COV) that has been effective in keeping people out of the hospital. He has also, on multiple occasions, encouraged Floridians to get vaccinated. Just last month, the Republican governor urged the public to take advantage of the vaccine during a press conference, noting that the shots are “saving lives.”
“If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals …. over 95% of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,” DeSantis said. “These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality,” The Hill reported in July.
“These vacines are saving lives”
In his most direct effort to encourage people to get vaccinated, Governor Ron DeSantis said 95% of the new COVID cases are those who are not vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/3RzHYEH1mI
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) July 21, 2021
Following Fried’s framing, the interview quickly took a left turn, veering into conspiracy territory after Milano posed a question about the possibility of DeSantis altering statewide case numbers.
“Do you think that he’s actually manipulating COVID data?” Milano inquired.
Instead of putting to rest the theory peddled by some blue checkmarks on Twitter, Fried left the door open, even questioning confirmed cases and how they’re reported by the state.
“You know, I think there’s definitely been a question for the last year and a half of what the numbers are, how they’re getting reported, the conflicts of when they’re getting reported…” Fried continued.
Milano then took it a step further, watering the seed that says DeSantis is ‘anti-mask,’ pitching the idea that the executive order he issued last month was a mandate to prevent people from wearing facemasks.
“What we’re dealing with is when a governor, one of our leaders, steps forward and says, ‘You don’t have to wear masks; we don’t have any mandates,’ and then actually fights parents and school boards and tells them ‘You know what? We have a mandate to not wear masks.'”
Instead of correcting Milano’s interpretation of the order, Fried nodded before taking aim at DeSantis for “selling propaganda” and “creating a culture in our state that the vaccine doesn’t work.”
In reality, DeSantis’ executive order was not “anti-mask,” but rather gave parents the ultimate say in whether their children will mask up or not when the school year begins. The move has received blowback from a growing number of school boards, with many revolting against the order.
Milano, an actress-turned-#MeToo political activist, is no stranger to controversial takes. She has slowly become a central celebrity figure on the progressive left, advocating for abortion rights, pro-transgender rights, and gun control.
But this isn’t the first time the Agriculture Commissioner has hitched her wagon to radical political figures. Most recently, Fried embraced Rebekah Jones, a former Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee, after she was fired from her post for repeatedly violating the agency’s policy about communicating with the media. She even left open the idea that Jones was connected to her campaign. The embattled “data scientist” turned congressional candidate openly endorsed Fried in June, while also making the claim that she was “joining the campaign.”
Fried’s campaign has still not officially commented on Jones’s involvement.
To view the full interview, click here.