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DeSantis and the Media: (Not) a Love Story

“I think you need that approach,” said Dave Vasquez, his former press secretary. “Some outlets are out to land a big punch on him, so he goes into it thinking, ‘I’m going to fight really hard.’”

The incident with “60 Minutes” earned him the sympathy of the right-wing media ecosphere, which cheered DeSantis as he pounded CBS for deceptive editing and misleading innuendo.

“I view it as positive feedback,” he later boasted. “If the corporate press nationally isn’t attacking me, then I’m probably not doing my job.”

DeSantis has shrewdly cultivated the right-wing media — and Fox News above all.

It began in 2012, when DeSantis was an unknown candidate for a U.S. House seat in Florida. Somehow, he managed to score an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, where the nervous-looking, 33-year-old Iraq veteran spoke about then-President Barack Obama and his supposed lack of support for Israel.

DeSantis won that race, and the relationship blossomed over the ensuing years. When DeSantis ran for governor in 2018, he appeared regularly on Fox in what former aides acknowledged was a strategy aimed at securing the primary endorsement of the network’s No. 1 fan. Sure enough, Trump endorsed him, and DeSantis went on to defeat Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee, by fewer than 33,000 votes.

Lately, it often seems like Fox News is promoting another campaign: DeSantis’s thinly disguised bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Last year, The Tampa Bay Times revealed that various Fox shows requested the Florida governor appear on the network 113 times between November 2020 and the end of February 2021 — almost once a day. The Times quoted emails from Fox staffers gushing about DeSantis, with one producer calling him “the future of the party.”

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