DeSantis disses ‘The View.’ Conservatives should follow his lead

The invitation was a kind one: An ABC News program reached out to a popular Florida governor, asking him to come on its signature panel show, “The View.” 

“I hope you’re having a good summer. I am reaching out to invite Gov. Ron DeSantis to be our special guest on THE VIEW next season, which starts Sept. 6,” wrote supervising talent producer Todd Polkes recently. “We would be honored to have him join us in studio sometime in the Fall.”

A DeSantis appearance on “The View” undoubtedly would be one of the program’s highest-rated segments of the year, if not the highest. The Republican governor is seen as a clear frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination if Donald Trump does not run. And even if the 45th president does run, poll after poll on state levels shows DeSantis either about even with or slightly ahead of Trump in a head-to-head matchup, including in the key battlegrounds of FloridaMichigan and New Hampshire

In terms of active GOP candidates, DeSantis is by far the bigger catch from the right for the liberal program to land. 

But the governor, unlike many others in the party, is exceptionally shrewd when it comes to handling the media, if we can fairly call “The View” that, despite it operating under the ABC News umbrella. We witnessed this during the media’s shameful coverage of the passing of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, which many news outlets dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill despite the word “gay” not appearing in the bill once. 

“Does it say that in the bill?” DeSantis retorted to a reporter who referenced the bill as “Don’t Say Gay” during a press conference. “I’m asking what’s in the bill because you are pushing false narratives. It doesn’t matter what critics say. It says ‘classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation,’” the governor continued. “The idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you, because you peddle false narratives.”

And that’s correct: The bill applies to kids in kindergarten through second grade being taught sexual instruction. Polls in Florida show a solid majority of voters agree with the bill despite the false narrative from many local and national outlets.

So should DeSantis, who clearly has the ability to spar with hostile journalists, appear on “The View,” and would he be asked tough but fair questions presented in a professional manner? 

A look at past comments by the program’s co-hosts suggests that would not happen. And so, in responding to the invite, DeSantis’s press office respectfully declined while pointing out the unhinged, vitriolic comments made by the hosts that go well beyond disagreement on policy. 

The program’s most senior host, Joy Behar, in an example included in the DeSantis press office response, once called him “a negligent, homicidal sociopath” who was “risking lives of children, children’s parents, their grandparents, anyone they may come into contact with, so he can appeal to his white supremacist base.” 

The program’s part-time “conservative,” Ana Navarro, who has said she voted for DeSantis’s 2018 gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, as well as Joe Biden in 2020, once called the governor “anti-Black.” Another co-host, Sunny Hostin, has referred to the governor as “DeathSantis” and a “fascist” and a “bigot.”

“If you start coming after Black people, what comes next, right? Of course the LGBTQ+ community, and then women, and then other marginalized groups,” Hostin also alleged. 

Add it all up, and here you have three hosts accusing a sitting governor – who appears to be coasting to reelection in a state that is almost even in terms of registered Democrats versus Republicans – of being a homicidal maniac targeting kids, parents and grandparents to appeal to white supremacists while going after Black people.

On what planet does anyone believe it’s a wise idea for DeSantis or any conservative outside of #NeverTrumpers to ever appear with those who seek, not a spirited conversation on the big issues of the day (inflation, energy, crime or border policy), but simply to make themselves the story in their attempts to humiliate and embarrass a guest because of his ideology?

On cue, DeSantis is being accused of ducking “tough but respectful questions.” 

Per the Poynter Institute, which bills itself as “a nonprofit media institute and newsroom that provides fact-checking, media literacy and journalism ethics training to citizens and journalists”: 

“It would be nice to think DeSantis could sit down and face some tough but respectful questions instead of ducking some pushback on his beliefs. And if he does have designs on national politics, he absolutely should face some pertinent questions and be able to confidently defend his positions — regardless of who is asking the questions.”

Again, who believes the questions would be “respectful” given the past comments made? It’s completely conceivable to see Behar or Hostin asking questions like “Governor, why are you putting your political ambitions ahead of the lives of children?” or “Governor, your supporters also support the KKK. Will you denounce them?” 

It’s one thing for DeSantis to go on real news programs such as “Special Report”on Fox News or “Face The Nation” on CBS or “World News Tonight” on ABC. Such interviews would entail challenging questions, but they would be done professionally and without the anchor or host playing to applause from a one-sided studio audience. And if the governor performed well in those situations, his numbers likely would go higher nationally, if challenging Trump for the nomination is his goal. 

For his part, DeSantis revealed on Thursday that he wasn’t aware that his staff had declined the invitation earlier in the week but was in agreement on their decision. “I didn’t know that that had been declined until I saw it in the news, because I think my staff knows better than to even bring that to me. I don’t need to be involved with some of the partisan corporate media,” he told Fox News. 

DeSantis could have appeared and landed some rhetorical blows in a hostile environment. But it would undoubtedly be personal and acrimonious if the precedent from Behar, Hostin and Navarro is any indication. 

There’s little doubt the governor’s goal is to be president one day. And one way to achieve that is by being above rolling around in the media mud. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Tags 2024 presidential campaign ABC Ana Navarro DeSantis v. Trump dont say gay leftwing media bias Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis The View

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