Gov. Ron DeSantis wants President Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board to be hunted nearly — or entirely — into extinction.
Florida’s Republican Governor has likened the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory board, set up to educate the public about disinformation, to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” Before signing legislation honoring the victims and opponents of communism during a news conference in Miami Monday, DeSantis told the crowd to criticize things that go against American values.
“That disinformation bureau needs to go the way of the buffalo,” DeSantis said. “We need to eliminate that. That is a big danger to free expression in this country.”
Long held as a symbol of the Native Americans and the Great Plains, the American bison was nearly hunted into extinction in the late 1800s. However, the population has rebounded to “near threatened” after conservation efforts that began around the turn of the 20th century. The bison has since become symbolic of both overhunting and the conservation movement and became the national mammal of the United States in 2016.
Since the Biden administration announced the Disinformation Governance Board late last month, the body has become a target of conservatives and free-speech advocates. Florida joined a coalition of Republican-led states calling on DHS to disband the “authoritarian” agency, and Missouri and Louisiana have also sued over the board.
DeSantis, who has touted Florida as the “Free State,” suggested social media companies can’t shove a narrative down the throats of Americans.
“What they are doing to try to stifle dissent to try to elevate a chosen political narrative that’s endorsed by the regime and to try to marginalize dissenters is not what a free society is all about,” DeSantis said. “What they will use that for, I believe, is to feed the social media platforms with what they want to be censored and not want to be censored.”
DeSantis also told the crowd he was thankful billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is taking over Twitter because he will “open it up.” Pointing to Musk’s other successful ventures — such as PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla — the Governor added that the world’s richest man would improve what the new owner has called “the de facto public town square.”
Twitter initially resisted Musk’s proposal to buy the platform, which DeSantis said was because the company’s board of directors was afraid of losing control of the political narrative. Social media platforms in recent years have cracked down against COVID-19 disinformation and former President Donald Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. However, DeSantis said several censored comments turned out to be true.
The Governor has also been on the receiving end of social media policing their platforms. In April 2021, YouTube removed a WTSP Tampa Bay video that featured DeSantis and a roundtable of scientists because their comments violated the platform’s COVID-19 medical misinformation policies.
“They want to enforce one viewpoint and one narrative, and then if you speak out against that, maybe you’ll be suspended, maybe you’ll be totally deplatformed, maybe your posts will be censored,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis also has a second interest in Musk buying Twitter — what the Governor estimates is a $15 million boost for Florida’s pension fund.
“I think more important to me than just the dollars and cents is doubling down on free expression,” DeSantis said. “There’s no orthodoxy that the government can impose on us. We’re able to speak our mind.”