Gov. DeSantis says he didn’t remember hearing vax misinformation at his own press conference

Ron DeSantis
The Governor stood by a speaker who made anti-vax claims, but didn't hear them.

In Doral Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis had a chance to clean up the perception that he agreed with misinformation from a featured speaker at his own press conference the day before.

However, it’s unclear if the response will mollify critics.

The Governor told reporters that he essentially wasn’t listening to controversial comments a speaker made in Newberry suggesting COVID-19 vaccines scramble the genetic codes of the vaxxed.

“Honestly, I don’t even remember him saying that, so it’s not anything I’ve said,” DeSantis said about the controversial statement at a press conference announcing big $5,000-per-incident fines for cities mandating COVID-19 shots for employees.

The question that DeSantis sidestepped was from POLITICO reporter Marc Caputo: “At yesterday’s press conference, the guy next to you said that the vaccines changed (his?) RNA. As you’ve said, you’re a data-driven guy. That doesn’t line up with the data. Two questions. Do you believe that? And if you don’t believe it, how come you didn’t say anything at the moment?”

Along with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, DeSantis stood by silently as an invited speaker claimed that COVID-19 vaccines changed genetics.

Darris Friend, an employee at Gainesville Regional Utilities, defended refusing a vaccine on those grounds.

“The vaccine changes your RNA, so for me, that’s a problem,” Friend said.

Friend was trafficking in vaccine misinformation. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes clear, vaccines do not change an individuals’ core genetic material because they do not interact with the nucleus of body cells.

None of the public officials corrected the remarks, preferring instead to advance on-topic crowd-pleasing soundbites when they spoke in support of DeSantis and the proposal.

The Governor went on in Doral to distance himself from Friend’s vaccine skepticism.

He said the “data is very clear” that vaccines prevent hospitalizations. DeSantis went on to defend the vaccine’s efficacy further, before saying that some refusing the vaccine may be making the wrong decision.

“There are some of those folks who may make a decision that’s ultimately not the right decision for them,” DeSantis said. “There are some people who are hospitalized who probably would not have been had they done that.

“I just don’t think that decision should be used to cast aside people who have served their community for years and years and years,” DeSantis said. “My view is you stand by the folks that have stood by us. Not every decision they make would be the same decision I would make.”

DeSantis may not have thrown Friend under the bus. But in terms of the realities of the national political ambitions that drive this Governor, that gentle, circuitous, day-late-and-a-dollar-short rebuke was about the best that could be hoped for.

Meanwhile, the disavowal of the speaker’s claim is on trend for DeSantis. The Governor has gone so far as to distance himself from responsibility for his own Twitter account when pressed on statements.

In January 2020, he tweeted that “voting is a privilege,” but told Florida Politics that he didn’t actually make the statement.

“It’s kind of a word salad. It’s not necessarily how I talk,” DeSantis said at the time.

The sole Cabinet member not on hand for Monday’s false claim again called on the Governor to more firmly repudiate Friend’s statement.

“It seems like every day our Governor spreads some new dangerous conspiracy theory about COVID-19. The COVID vaccines do not change your RNA, and it is deeply irresponsible for DeSantis to use his platform to elevate the false notion that they do. It is extremely concerning that he continues to spread disinformation and ignore the advice of doctors and scientists. This is completely unacceptable behavior from someone who is supposed to be leading our state out of this pandemic, and he should correct the record immediately,” asserted Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • JmjUSA

    September 14, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Would that typists & political hacks like AGG hold themselves to the same standard that they are so quick to point out on those they despise, but give passes to their demon-rat puppeteers

    • Alex

      September 14, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      What did he print that’s not true?

  • PeterH

    September 14, 2021 at 12:19 pm


    Conservative firebrand Bob Enyart, the pastor of the Denver Bible Church and indelible talk show host, has died from COVID-19, his radio co-host announced Monday on Facebook.

    Enyart and his wife refused to get the vaccine due to abortion concerns, he said on his website. Of course, Enyart’s wife is also on her Covid death march!

    In October, Enyart successfully sued the state over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches, a rare legal victory against broad public health mandates instituted during the pandemic.

    Pushing the limits never bothered Enyart.

    He once traveled to New Zealand for the sole purpose of being arrested with a “Clinton is a Rapist” banner, according to a 1999 Westword profile.

    On his old TV show, Bob Enyart Live, the host would “gleefully read obituaries of AIDS sufferers while cranking ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen,” Westword reported.

    The show’s website says Enyart has aired more than 6,000 radio and TV shows across 80 cities from Honolulu to Orlando, Fla. He claims to be in the top 5% of all authors for book and video sales.

    Enyart also served as the spokesman for American Right to Life, which bills itself as the “abolition wing of the pro-life movement.”

    He served as Denver Bible Church’s pastor since 2000, according to his biography.

    • Tom

      September 15, 2021 at 8:27 am

      Only you would find strength and arrogant, elite joy. Pathetic, but what’s new as this comes from the person whose affiliation with a predator org., in which two founders resigned and financial questions raised. But you have elite, smug audacity to lecture others. Amazingly, you find way to go lower. Congrats.

  • Alex

    September 14, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    “There are some people who are hospitalized who probably would not have been had they done that”


    It’s almost ALL Governor DeIsnformation.

    Fucking asshole.

    And there you have it folks, DeAnus is Trump part 2

    • Tom

      September 15, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Alex, Only one “Fng” A hole and that’s you. Deranged socialist, really need mental analysis. Hard to go any lower but you Manchurians do. Congrats!

  • Frankie M.

    September 14, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Next thing you know he’ll be telling his anti-vaxxers/maskers to stand back and stand by. Makes you wonder what else this joker doesn’t remember. (See what I did there.)

    • Tom

      September 15, 2021 at 8:31 am

      Follower, Loser!

  • Tom

    September 14, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    The 3 scum bags.
    You all sleep on the curb with the manure you breathe.

    All three of you don’t have Governor Rons kahones combined. . Alex, you are pathetic socialist. Peter H is propagandist and associated as a cover up for Lincoln org, Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson. Frankie is a want a be no body.

    Alex, you crawl on on the curb.
    Call J D and others so I’ll take them down after the same with you three.
    Pathetic liars all 3.

  • FP Monitor

    September 15, 2021 at 12:12 am

    It’s a big mistake is to respond to anything Tom posts. He’s an ignorant Trumpster hack simply looking for attention. Do yourself and all of us a big favor …… ignore all of his return comments. Maybe the internet troll will go away.

    • Tom

      September 15, 2021 at 6:56 am

      F P monitor is a fake name.
      It’s a mistake to read anything as it’s a Manchurian protector of lies and extremism. It protects the socialist haters who can’t defend themselves.

  • Dan

    September 15, 2021 at 12:40 am

    I don’t like the mRNA vaccines. I don’t care what the science says about them. I just don’t like how they work. And I don’t trust that the government is being fully truthful concerning side effects. They have a motivation to hide that data because they want everyone vaccinated. By all indications, the side effects are more severe compared to most traditional vaccines. I know people who had vaccines like flu shots, Hepatitis, MMR and others who had practically no side effects at all. But those same people I know get this COVID vaccine and they tell me their “arm is on fire,” migraines for weeks, confusion, and sick with a fever. That doesn’t sound normal to me. Vaccines aren’t supposed to make you sick like that.

    If I take any vaccine for this, I’ll wait for Novavax. At least that one creates the spike proteins in the lab and doesn’t screw with your cell’s machinery. According to the trials it has far fewer side effects and is 90% effective, even against Delta. If it’s never approved or available in the US, then I won’t be taking a vaccine at all. I will not take mRNA. No way in hell will I take those. NO WAY!

    But if you all like those mRNA vaccines screwing with your cells, and you like making Pfizer insanely rich for a vaccine that doesn’t stop the spread nor make you immune, be my guest. I won’t be participating in that.

    • Ocean Joe

      September 16, 2021 at 6:13 am

      Yes, the government has a motivation to get everyone vaccinated: ending the pandemic and getting our economy and our lives back on track.
      If you have fallen for the concept that government is your enemy then no vaccine will help you. The party out of power started pushing this in the 80’s, along with term limits as a mechanism to regain power. They came back into power and rewarded the wealthy, abandoned the term limits pledge, and now survive only through division and constant misinformation. All of their bigshots have gotten the vaccine, what does that tell you?

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, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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

Sign up for Sunburn