Team DeSantis denounces New York Times’ claim it lost the ‘meme wars’

pushaw AP photo copy
As DeSantis stumps in Iowa, spokespeople are putting out fires online.

Top staffers with the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign are responding to a critical article from Saturday’s New York Times.

The Times article, entitled “How DeSantis’ hyper-online 2024 campaign strategy fell flat,” dissected the DeSantis strategy of courting online right-wing “influencers,” being “thin-skinned and meanspirited online,” circulating “videos employing a Nazi symbol and homoerotic images,” and generally being “unable to halt the cascade of internet memes that belittle and ridicule Mr. DeSantis.”

“The corporate media loves that Trump prioritizes winning meme wars over defeating the Left. Because they know that next time BLM decides to burn down our cities, Trump will just tweet LAW & ORDER a dozen times like he did before, thinking the internet is real life,” wrote Christina Pushaw, the former official spokesperson for the DeSantis administration who has since moved over to the campaign side.

The Times specifically name-checked Pushaw, but she didn’t respond to those personal attacks.

The article described the California transplant as “well known for her extremely online approach to communications, including a scorched-earth strategy when it comes to critics and the press. As the governor’s press secretary, she frequently posted screenshots of queries from mainstream news outlets on the web rather than responding to them and once told followers to “drag” — parlance for a prolonged public shaming — an Associated Press reporter, which got her temporarily banned from Twitter.”

Yet, in contrast to Pushaw’s pushback against lower-profile critics in the state of Florida, aided and abetted by the Governor’s use of the bully pulpit, the Times depicted Pushaw and the rest of the comms team as feckless and flat-footed in response to provocations from Trump world. The article notes, correctly, that DeSantis’ adjuncts “conspicuously avoided so much as mentioning Mr. Trump, and appeared completely caught off guard when, in March, pro-Trump influencers peppered the internet with posts that amplified a rumor that Mr. DeSantis had once eaten chocolate pudding with his fingers.”

Despite the best efforts of the DeSantis operation to enlist prominent online conservatives, the Times notes that some resisted: “Benny Johnson, a former journalist with nearly two million followers on X, Twitter’s new name, resisted overtures from the DeSantis team, remaining a vocal Trump supporter. Chaya Raichik, whose Libs of TikTok account has 2.6 million followers, was at the Tallahassee dinner, according to two attendees, but has remained neutral.”

In addition to allegedly artless outreach to influencers, the Times article notes that those who are on DeSantis’ side at least occasionally traffic in stale, canned talking points.

“The existing network of DeSantis influencers has presented challenges for the campaign. Online surrogates for Mr. DeSantis have repeatedly parroted, word for word, the talking points emailed to them each day by the campaign, undermining the effort to project an image of widespread — and organic — support. Last month, for example, three different accounts almost simultaneously posted about Mr. Trump getting booed at a college football game in Iowa.”

While the campaign apparently has a greater level of oversight over its messaging now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t responding to these attacks as if they hurt, as a post from official spokesperson Carly Atchison, who moved over to Team DeSantis from the office of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, makes clear.

Meanwhile, Team Trump is gloating.

“The DeSantis War Room thought they could wage war against us. They ended up being on a kamikaze mission to tank the candidacy of Ron DeSanctimonious. A new report details how the DeSanctus hype train has crashed and burned never seen before in politics.”

“The only person to blame for this unmitigated disaster falls on one person—Ron. He empowered political school children, who were more interested in posting on X and boosting their own social media profiles, to run his campaign. This is what happens when you surround yourself with grifters and those who don’t believe in the cause,” claimed spox Steven Cheung.

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


16 comments

  • My Take

    October 21, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    His efforts resemble the blather in a dumb redneck barroom dispute, the purely verbal past, before fists fly.

  • My Take

    October 21, 2023 at 1:13 pm

    “PaRt”
    He is “thoroughly unlikable” (J Rùbin) and the Social Net is huge. It is no wonder he gets pĺentiful criticism and ridicule.

  • PeterH

    October 21, 2023 at 1:48 pm

    The guy is a loser all around. Romney stated it well ‘DeSantis looks like he has a toothache! I can’t think of a worse choice to the American experience than Ron DeSantis…….well maybe Trump might be worse.

  • A Random Guest

    October 21, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    Foreign agent Pushaw now working to get Little Rhonda’ in the White House.

    The Big House suits that duo much better.

  • rick whitaker

    October 21, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    when you’re competing with the biggest ahole in the room, being the second biggest ahole doesn’t get you much attention. trump is a pro at being a mean jerk, desantis is an amataur at being a mean jerk

    • MH/Duuuval

      October 21, 2023 at 8:00 pm

      Trump has had a moment or two of public self-reflection; never Ron whose ego is that fragile.

      Both are vengeful and quick to take a slight as worthy of a lifetime vendetta. (Unless, of course, the offender wants to publicly plea for mercy.)

  • Kenneth L Gallaher

    October 21, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    The GOP has no viable 2024 POTUS candidate

    • rick whitaker

      October 21, 2023 at 7:52 pm

      when trump ran in 2016, he wasn’t a viable candidate. with the help of facebook and russia he won

  • My Take

    October 22, 2023 at 10:02 am

    Actually, meme derision of DeSSlantus has an inherent difficulty. It is not that easy to cleverly caricaturize someone who is already a clown.

    • Tom

      October 22, 2023 at 10:15 am

      Good point. You can’t beclown a clown.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 22, 2023 at 11:15 am

        Word for the day: beclown.

  • Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys

    October 22, 2023 at 9:29 pm

    The painful expression on DeSantis’ face is that of a man in excruciating pain. High-heels are gender specific.

  • Joe

    October 23, 2023 at 11:48 am

    “im not owned! im not owned!!”, i continue to insist as i slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob.

    • My Take

      October 23, 2023 at 11:00 pm

      A corn cob in the outhouse.

  • Joe

    October 23, 2023 at 11:48 am

    “im not owned! im not owned!!”, i continue to insist as i slowly shrink and transform into a corncob.

  • Joe

    October 23, 2023 at 11:49 am

    Look at the bolded names in the article: these are some of the worst human things in the entire world.

Comments are closed.


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