Media Matters: Ron DeSantis’ ‘monkey’ defense is false

Ron DeSantis

A spokesperson for Ron DeSantis said the newly anointed Republican gubernatorial nominee frequently uses the phrase “monkey this up” to describe something messed up.

That’s bogus, according to Media Matters, a nonprofit that routinely fact-checks and criticizes conservative outlets.

Using a Nexis search of DeSantis’ public media appearances, Media Matters discovered Wednesday that “there is no record of DeSantis having used the phrase publicly.”

DeSantis has drawn national criticism and attention for using the term “monkey” while discussing on Fox News his upcoming campaign fight against Andrew Gillum, the state’s first African-American gubernatorial nominee.

The full context of DeSantis’ remarks: “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work; that’s not going to be good for Florida.”

According to Ali Vitali, a reporter for NBC, a DeSantis spokesperson told her that the candidate uses the expression frequently and without racist intentions.

Media Matters found that DeSantis did use the term “monkey” on air during an August 2017 Fox News appearance, when he said Democrats were trying to “throw a monkey wrench” into the Trump administration’s agenda.

The news accuracy group also criticized conservatives in media for coming to DeSantis’ defense after the comments. Conservative influencer Ben Shapiro and conservative radio show host Mark Levin — who endorsed DeSantis — have dismissed claims that the Republican nominee’s marks were racist.

DeSantis “was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said in a statement.

“To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left Democrat trying to stop our success.”

Fox News host Sandra Smith, in a follow-up later on Wednesday, said, “We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”

Danny McAuliffe

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at [email protected]


  • Cory

    August 29, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Media Matters is a non profit? Come on and be real. Media Matters is an arm of the Democrat Party. Once again the American media shows why it is the enemy of this country.

    • Kurt Thompson

      August 29, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Idiots and greedy people are the real enemies of this country, not the media.

    • Mark

      August 29, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      Media Matters is a 501(c)(3), therefore a legally defined non-profit. If you have proof that they are in fact not a non-profit maybe you should share this valuable information with the IRS.

    • Zhagg

      August 30, 2018 at 7:34 am

      Prove it.
      You made the claim, now prove they aren’t a non profit.
      Prove their connection to the dem party.

  • Gwen Eddy

    August 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Oh good. Another feckless racist trump cu&t.He has joined Bone Spurs circle jerk with a bang. He is exactly what the republicans deserve.

  • Me

    August 30, 2018 at 7:25 am

    People who think the comment was racist are just looking for anything to be racist. It is a common phrase used by many Americans everyday with no racist undertones. Stop looking for issues where there are none!

  • Mz. Info

    August 30, 2018 at 10:24 am

    It was dumb. But I’ve heard of the phrase “monkey it up”. Although I’m a ‘word person.’

    So is DeSantis. From the top of my head I remember Desantis using the word “boondoggler”, and “it’s a doozy” in public speech this past primary. Who says that? Desantis. He’s off the cuff and crazy with it. Not “scripted” like everyone else.

    He speaks in weird words. Words that only ‘word-people’ understand

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn