Well, that’s it. Ron DeSantis can’t be president. His campaign lasted less than an hour, ended abruptly by a technical glitch on Twitter. Don’t take my word for it, just listen to former Republican-turned-media-darling Mac Stipanovich, who declared DeSantis’s candidacy dead on arrival:
“DeSantis is off to a disastrous start,” longtime political consultant Mac Stipanovich said, calling the Twitter Spaces meltdown a serious misfire. “You only get one chance to make a first impression, and it was not one of confidence and competence that he was trying to project.”
So beloved is Stipanovich by the legacy media that his silly quote was the second paragraph in an equally silly story by the Orlando Sentinel. Of course, in all likelihood, few people can even read the story at the link, because it’s behind a paywall. Which helps illustrate the next point even more clearly.
The suggestion that a large number of winnable Republican voters, such as those trying to decide between DeSantis or Donald Trump, actually care even the slightest about whatever happened on Twitter last Wednesday night is patently absurd.
Only the smallest fraction of Republican voters are regularly on Twitter to begin with. And even fewer subscribe to paywalled newspapers like the Orlando Sentinel. To those who might argue that it’s not the Twitter malfunction itself that matters, but the overall national media narrative, I say those people still don’t get it: Republicans are completely finished with the legacy media – national or local – and I mean completely. Republicans generally take everything coming out of national media outlets with a grain of salt, and generally tend to assume the complete opposite of whatever noise is buzzing out of the media machine on any given day.
So let’s not pretend that the media coverage of the Twitter glitch actually hurt DeSantis in a GOP presidential primary. The negative coverage probably helped more than anything.
With that out of the way, it is fair to say that DeSantis missed a huge opportunity on Wednesday night to do something…different. Something no candidate launching in 2023 has done yet: paint a compelling visual and audio spectacle that helps make the case for their candidacy.
The fact that the legacy media expended so much energy ripping DeSantis and Elon Musk for a Twitter glitch underscores just how starved news outlets are for a compelling story. They are practically begging for any one of the leading candidates to provide something worth latching onto.
A Lackluster Start to the Presidential Race
It seems the days of of rousing political theater, complete with cheering and chanting crowds, intriguing visual backdrops, and soaring rhetoric to match equally exciting musical themes are gone. So far, the 2023 presidential campaign launches have been underwhelming, to put it mildly.
DeSantis’s tech-troubled Twitter kick-off, while inconsequential in the overall race, was just the latest dud. Former President Donald Trump’s 2023 campaign kick-off, complete with a crowd that looked as though they were being held at gunpoint at Mar-a-Lago, certainly didn’t impress anyone, either. And then there was President Joe Biden, launching his re-election effort with a yawn-inducing snooze-a-thon YouTube video that seemed aimed more at warding off left-wing challengers than an attempt to inspire the undecided American voter eyeing all candidates with suspicion .
These disappointments leave a gap that yearns to be filled. Weather Channel reporters know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen how their reporters stand in front of a twisted Taco Bell sign laying in the street, or broadcast live from a beach as winds blow rain at a nearly horizontal angles as they hold their hats in one hand and their microphones in the other.
We’ll come back to the hurricane analogy in a minute. But you get the point: visuals matter in the media.
It’s not hard to imagine how Donald Trump could have easily created a more visually impactful campaign kick-off by revisiting a place that captured the essence of his successful 2016 campaign: East Palestine, Ohio, rather than posh Mar-a-Lago. East Palestine is a primarily working-class, pro-Trump area, and would have not only shown him in solidarity with the very demographic that made him president, but it would have provided him a perfect backdrop from which to launch into a blistering critique of the Biden administration’s economic failures.
By the same token, DeSantis could have easily put together an equally compelling rally at any number of communities across the Sunshine State that have benefited from his leadership – scores upon scores of parents, kids, and working-class Floridians would have happily assembled and been thrilled to chant whatever slogans Team DeSantis asked of them.
As for Biden, he’s got the resources of the entire American government behind him. Instead, we got a YouTube video.
Republicans often complain that the legacy media doesn’t do a good job telling the conservative side of the story. Well, so far this year, Republicans haven’t done themselves any favors, either. As things currently stand, one of these three men is highly likely to be the next President of the United States. Let’s hope, for America’s sake, that they start acting like they really want the job. Americans love a good story. Tell us one.
The Mother of All Florida Hurricane Seasons?
Hurricane season starts this week. Which means Florida is once again on the cusp of wall-to-wall news media coverage just as soon as the smallest tropical depression starts to look like, just maybe, it might veer its way into the state. But whatever media onslaught we’re used to seeing in a normal hurricane season, get ready for ten times that amount.
That’s because with Ron DeSantis running for president, Florida is under a microscope like never before. Americans are going to hear all about the insurance crisis in Florida, as if DeSantis caused it himself. And then, should a storm of any consequence actually head Florida’s way, expect the already feverish national media to lose their collective minds: every political reporter on the DeSantis beat will race to the Sunshine State. It’s not hard to imagine them all elbowing the galosh-wearing Weather Channel reporters aside, trying to stand in the same ankle-deep puddle of water in front of a fallen palm frond, breathlessly reporting on the “crisis” and what it means for DeSantis’s chances.
Hey – at least those Weather Channel folks know how to paint a compelling visual picture.
They’ll need those visuals, too, just to keep people tuned in. Because outside of Florida, few Americans are going to care much about Florida’s annual financial disasters, or the underlying factors contributing to a barely functioning property insurance market that was already limping along badly last summer before it got run over by Hurricane Ian.
The good news for Florida (and bad news for reporters trying to score big stories), is that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) predicts a near-normal hurricane season this year, with only a handful of storms expected in the Atlantic.
The bad news is that it only takes one storm to cause significant damage in Florida. Whether that damage is from an actual hurricane, or from the army of reporters that will tear into Florida when it happens, remains to be seen.
Either way, brace yourselves. The media storm is coming.