Discover more from Progress Report
Seven days of hell in Florida
Is anyone paying attention?
Welcome to a Tuesday evening edition of Progress Report.
I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit frustrated. Angry, too. And more than anything else, deeply exasperated and seriously concerned. I’ve been working on a piece about a hopeful new movement and was hoping to publish that tonight, but as I wrote last week, the nihilists are winning and tonight they’re really running up the score.
As always, it’s up to us to push back, so let’s get into it — that more hopeful story will come later this week.
Republicans in the Florida legislature — a once-independent body that now simply exists as the bureaucratic vessel for Ron DeSantis’s crude impulses and cruel ambitions — have spent the past week filing one reprehensible bill after another, filling the docket with an onslaught of human rights violations. Not one of those bills aims to solve a problem afflicting everyday people in Florida, but taken collectively, they represent the pet obsessions of a power-hungry narcissist operating under the assumption of impunity.
Take a look at this list of proposals, each linked to more information about each bills:
Precedent-busting laws that strip immigrants of basic rights, takes away in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, and makes it a crime to drive an undocumented immigrant anywhere within the state
The most ideological and dangerous attack on higher education in generations
Another preemption law, this one banning local governments from enacting laws, regulations, ordinance policies that would govern water and air pollution.
Regulation of sex-ed in schools to force abstinence-only lessons and ban any mention of STDs and HIV until sixth grade.
A full-blown assault on the press and the First Amendment
Another attempt at a bill that would ban automatic reduction of dues from the salaries of public sector union members and force labor organizations to go through constant recertification
While he’s out flogging his terrible book this week, DeSantis found time on Monday to name a handful of donors and far-right goons to the board of what used to be Disney’s self-run Reedy Creek Improvement District. His appointees include:
Bridget Ziegler, the co-founder of the puritanical education group Moms For Liberty and the wife of Jan. 6th insurrectionist and new Florida GOP chair Christian Ziegler
Ron Peri, the founder of the far-right forum The Gathering and avowed defender of Christian nationalism.
Martin Garcia, a lawyer who has donated $53,000 to DeSantis
DeSantis is a transparently evil person, a lucky simpleton who fancies himself a political genius after trouncing a has-been candidate put up by a state Democratic Party in disarray last November. DeSantis’s pre-existing swagger served to obscure the unique self-loathing found in people who pretend to be fighter pilots when their military career was spent as a lawyer torturing people at Guantanamo Bay, and since November, his delusions have reached new heights. Then again, you can’t exactly blame DeSantis for his wildly unwarranted arrogance, given the media coverage he continues to receive.
Most of the links in the list above take you to a local news story, and not just because local publications generally offer the most thorough coverage. In nearly every case, the local news outlets were the only media organizations covering DeSantis’s fuselage of means-spirited, far-right legislative proposals.
Go search on Google News for articles about those bills. The Disney takeover — but not the new board — got national coverage, and there’s been some TV news segments from New College as Chris Rufo sprays his insecure little bigotry all over the campus. But for the most part, the long list of reprehensible proposals have gone ignored by national political media. Instead, those outlets are largely producing stories about DeSantis’s presidential prospects and rivalry with Donald Trump.
Even the introduction of the expansion to the Don’t Say LGBTQ+ law that once garnered so much attention has largely been ignored by top news outlets. Even the New York Times, still the paper of record, decided to ignore a fascist agenda and instead publish unsettlingly excited coverage of DeSantis’s shadow presidential campaign.
To be fair, the article did include the embarrassing fact that DeSantis is so afraid of Trump that he had security prevent anyone wearing MAGA swag from entering a book signing that he held at at a mall today. But the rest of it functioned as a hype piece for the governor, treating his hard-line cruelty as a laudable strategy instead of a cynical abuse of power.
It’s another win for the nihilists, who are on a real hot streak at the moment. I refuse to believe that outlets won’t cover DeSantis’s state-level policy because they don’t believe that readers will click or care, because the man has cultivated his image by foisting those mendacious policies on more vulnerable Floridians.
Maybe it’s the fact that editors at prestigious national media outlets are insulated from the impact that working people experience as a result of DeSantis’s corruption, corporate allegiances, and hatred for minorities. Many reporters, too, see DeSantis’s fascistic tendencies as an electoral strategy instead of a true expression of his personal beliefs and political philosophy.
Covering DeSantis as a normal presidential candidate and not a sweaty narcissist and local autocrat is in effect an endorsement of his extremism and unbridled bigotry. That such barbarism and authoritarianism appeals to a not insignificant number of Americans does not legitimize it or reduce the threat that it presents. If defending the broad public good in a civilized society betrays a bias in journalism, the institution no longer serves a purpose.
Wait, Before You Leave!
Progress Report has raised over $7 million dollars for progressive candidates and causes, breaks national stories about corrupt politicians, delivers incisive analysis, and continues to grow its paid reporting team. Yes, we pay everyone.
None of the money we’ve raised for candidates and causes goes to producing this newsletter or all of the related projects we put out. In fact, it costs me money to do this. So to make this sustainable, hire new writers, and expand, I need your help.
For just $5 a month, you can buy a premium subscription that includes:
Premium member-only newsletters with original reporting
Exclusive access to weekly member chats
Financing new projects and paying new reporters
You can also make a one-time donation to Progress Report’s GoFundMe campaign — doing so will earn you a shout-out in an upcoming edition of the big newsletter!