Ron DeSantis again decries ‘anonymous sources’ after anti-defamation bill fails
April is a big travel month for Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis israel AP (Large)
'Nobody trusts these people anymore.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis remains on the offense against “anonymous sources” after controversial legislation making it easier to sue media outlets for defamation failed.

The Governor offered extended remarks about how “manufactured narratives” are used to push agendas, responding to a reporter’s friendly question about “guys talking crap” about DeSantis and not “putting their name on it.”

In Jupiter, the Governor contended “the rise of the anonymous source … allows them to recycle gossip or it allows them to do a pre-cooked narrative that they don’t have the goods for, so they can wrap it up in an anonymous source because they couldn’t prove it to the reader if they actually had to identify evidence.”

“It’s a way to create narratives and elevate narrative over fact,” DeSantis claimed, before suggesting that unnamed people “attack (him) all the time.”

“I get out of bed, I roll out of bed in the morning, the Left has a spasm,” DeSantis said.

“Honestly, it just shows you that you’re over the target. If you have New York media outlets worried about me in Florida, they’re not doing that for their health. They understand that what we’re doing in Florida, you know, we represent a threat to leftism in this country because we’re defeating leftism in the state of Florida,” DeSantis claimed.

The Governor said “these outlets are not trusted anymore” as a result, while “more and more the trust of people has gone down.”

“They’re trying to generate clicks, they’re trying to do the narrative. But the problem is most people now just dismiss it. They’ll see some headline, ‘Oh, anonymous source. We know what these guys are up to. We know what they’re doing.'”

DeSantis allowed that while anonymous sources could be used in the case of “real serious malfeasance in government” to protect someone’s identity, “you do not launder anonymous sources to smear somebody.”

“If somebody is going to go after you, you should, as a journalist … demand they put their name to that. And if they’re not willing to put their name to the accusation, then you would never run with it, ever, if you cared about actual standards,” DeSantis said.

“But I think those standards have been chucked aside,” DeSantis added.

He blamed a “race for clicks” and “now real active partisans in terms of trying to pursue an agenda.”

“Nobody trusts these people anymore. Everybody knows when they see this stuff, they know someone’s trying to feed them some type of narrative. They’re trying to sell you a bill of goods. And so in that sense, it’s like as much as they try to recycle all this and try to smear me.”

The comments come after bills that would have targeted anonymous sources died in legislative committees (HB 991, SB 1220), despite DeSantis making the case for them repeatedly before and during the 2023 Legislative Session. The chambers were far apart regarding the bills’ language during negotiations and decided to shelve them rather than focus on what Rep. Alex Andrade called “a niche issue in civil torts.”

“I think what the bill is doing now is basically saying that if somebody is defamed … that if they’re using anonymous sources, then that can be a presumption that that was done with malice. Because if not, then there’s no way you could ever have a defamation action,” DeSantis said in March.

“I think what’s happened is, particularly, corporate media outlets have relied on anonymous sources to smear people,” DeSantis added. “And I just think that that’s something that is fundamentally wrong. And so again, these are false statements of fact that defame people, the question is if you bring a suit, how are you able to show that that was malicious?”

The legislation in the House and Senate would have made it easier for people to sue journalists and media outlets for defamation by lowering the high standard set in the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling New York Times v. Sullivan.

“This bill could be titled Journalism 101,” claimed Rep. Alex Andrade of Pensacola, the sponsor of the House product.

The legislation had its genesis in a DeSantis panel discussion he hosted earlier this year with people who bemoaned the difficulty in pursuing defamation claims.

The Governor held a roundtable with various people with grievances against the corporate press, including Nicholas Sandmann, whose confrontation with a Native American activist went viral some years back, gun rights activist Dennis O’Connor, lawyers Vel Freedman and Libby LockeCarson Holloway of the conservative Claremont Institute, and journalist Michael Moynihan.

The media is “digging their own grave,” DeSantis said back then. “In the long run, it hasn’t worked out for them.”

However, at least when it comes to legislation blocking the use of these reviled anonymous sources, the media gets at least one more year of the status quo.

A.G. Gancarski

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


20 comments

  • Jay Smif

    May 3, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    my god, fascist DeSantis is such a whiny nerd that thinks he’s queen, and just had the joke of the FL legislature give him everything he wanted, save for the power to kill journalists that speak badly of him. What a joke of a state.

  • Jeff Kollins

    May 3, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    Poor snowflake Ronnie, everybody is out to get him…UGH

    • SteveHC

      May 3, 2023 at 2:55 pm

      Yes, DeSantis really HAS become quite the snowflake. I guess his Harvard and Yale educational as well as his military experiences have all been for naught. What a waste…

  • Rob Desantos

    May 3, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    What a whiny wuss this guy is, Meatball needs to grow a pair!

    • Tjb

      May 3, 2023 at 4:20 pm

      Remember back in 2021 DeSantis sold golf balls with the logo “ Florida’s Governor Has a Pair”

      As golf balls, they’re not all that big.

      • Robert Gilmore

        May 4, 2023 at 10:00 am

        No

  • Michael K

    May 3, 2023 at 12:46 pm

    No honey. National media is scrutinizing the details and background because of the disaster we lived through when a highly corrupt, incompetent and deceitful ego maniac was given free pass and nearly destroyed democracy.

    A real man – a skilled politician – would welcome questions and not be afraid of transparency. Trafficking in Orwellian double-speak and manufacturing boogeymen and faux crises – not to mention the bigotry, cruelty and mis-use of state power and money – is all fair game for journalists to investigate. Why is it all the tough-posturing Republicans cry “victim” every time they are challenged? What are you so fearful of the free press? Better get used to the scrutiny unless you have something to hide – and/or simply not ready for prime time.

    • RR

      May 4, 2023 at 11:26 pm

      I don’t blame someone for calling him out and not putting their name on it. He would be out to get that person or business that says anything against him. He needs to slink away into the night so Florida can get back to being the great state it was before him!

  • Billy the Bamboozler

    May 3, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    Nobody trusts Orange Hitler and anyone who rode in his clown car. Mike Lindell, Alex Jones, Rudy Giuliani…all the MAGA sub-apes.

  • PeterH

    May 3, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    It is standard practice for the media to seek MULTIPLE sources before they report FACTS!

    I think it’s time for child like loser Ron DeSantis to seek professional help from a psychiatrist.

  • tom palmer

    May 3, 2023 at 6:47 pm

    sigh….
    Sometimes people are willing to provide info if it does not affect their pension that’s the reality

  • Lee Roller

    May 3, 2023 at 9:41 pm

    That’s some mighty thin skin for someone who’s supposed to the champion of the people.

    Of course the truth is that this greasy little high-heeled meatball is a paper tiger. An outright phony.

    This guy hasn’t taken on a single real problem. He’s too busy making a stink over the nonexistent problems that he himself invented in order to paint himself as a savior.

    Fake news. Fake freedom. Fake hero.

    • B Coll

      May 5, 2023 at 8:19 am

      Love this. You said this so eloquently based on facts. DeSatan creates “solutions” for non-existant problems and the Florida lapdog legislature sits when he tells them too.

  • Tom

    May 4, 2023 at 7:52 am

    I wonder of Rhonda realizes that plenty of politicians selectively leak information when it suits their agenda. Hardly surprising that it didn’t pass. What a clown.

  • Norm

    May 4, 2023 at 10:15 am

    Isn’t belittling the press a basic first step in fascism?

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 4, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    Rhonda’s Panties all in a wad, again. This guy wants to be President with skin so thin? His journey will end with him crumpled like a piece of paper on the floor at Maga Lardo. Until then, at least he is good for a laugh, I suppose? The harder he cries, the funnier it is for the rest of us. It’s just like people say when he got beat up as a child while the bullies yelled “WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF, RHONDA?” Except now he thinks he’s the bully. LOL. He trying, bless his heart.

  • Disney put their name on it

    May 4, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Disney put their name on it, and look at Rhonda go, weaponizing state government for his personal purpose of political retaliation. Little wonder sources of Rhonda news prefer to remain anonymous.

  • B Coll

    May 5, 2023 at 8:25 am

    This is so funny, I think the MAGA right wing media is more interested is spreading a narrative based on outright, proven lies. Can you say Fox “News”? Their audience isn’t/wasn’t smart enough to dismiss it as he claims people do. He’s a fascist with a very thin skin and is scared to death the media will continue to expose him for the sick, evil person he is.

  • Guy

    May 5, 2023 at 9:06 am

    The worst thing about DeSantis is that so many Floridians bought into his bull. His administration has devolved into a clique mentality against a population of alternate lifestyle individuals comprising a tiny percentage of citizens. Meanwhile there are real issues that he’s terrified to address.

  • Joseph Stephenson

    May 10, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    Little Rhonda got his panties in a bunch. The media has a right to ask any question they want. I can’t stand the little weasel. He is the WORST Governor Florida has ever had.

Comments are closed.


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