Controversial defamation bill dead in the Senate — again
defamation. Image via Pixabay

The bill outraged media voices on the Left and Right — as well as an advisor to Donald Trump.

The Senate will not consider a controversial defamation bill.

For the second year in a row, the bill effectively hit a wall in the upper chamber despite signs of life in the House.

With fewer than two weeks left in the Legislative Session, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s Office signaled there is no appetite for the bill.

“No. No plans to take up HB 757,” Passidomo spokesperson Katherine Betta told Florida Politics.

That’s the House version carried by Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican.

There is a Senate companion bill (SB 1780), sponsored by Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Lake Mary Republican. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced on a 7-2 vote earlier this month. But it failed to make the final agenda this year for the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.

Aides in Brodeur’s Office acknowledged that left the bill on weak footing in the upper chamber.

Since the bill had cleared at least one Senate committee, the Senate could theoretically take up a bill if it passed in the House.

But that hasn’t happened, and Passidomo’s Office doesn’t seem interested anyway.

“It has not yet passed the House,” Betta said. “Even if it does come over from the House, it would not be here in time to be heard in a Senate Committee. So, no.”

Andrade, for his part, isn’t giving up.

“I’ve had bills die and bills revived after the Senate ‘killed’ them,” he said. “I guess it all depends on who cares about it and how much they care.”

A legislative push for changing Florida’s defamation laws kicked off last year after Gov. Ron DeSantis called for more accountability in media. At a roundtable in February 2023, he gathered a group of conservatives who felt wronged by national outlets.

The Governor vowed then to “hold these big media companies accountable for their actionable lies.”

But efforts to change Florida’s defamation law sparked outrage from outlets large and small and from across the political spectrum.

Perhaps most notably, the bill angered a number of conservative radio outlets, many of them family-owned stations and media groups. Drew Steele, a conservative radio host on Fort Myers-based 92.5 FOX News, predicted in an op-ed published in Florida Politics that conservative outlets may be hit hardest by changes proposed in the bills.

“Their actual effect would be to chill speech, imperil small media outlets and open the door to the very ‘lawfare’ tactics liberals have used so effectively against conservatives,” he wrote.

More recently, the bill drew the attention of nationally prominent conservatives, including Stephen Miller, an advisor to former President Donald Trump, who said the law will ultimately stifle conservative speech.

“If you want to go after corporate media then pass a law narrowly tailored at them,” Miller posted on X. “This law will mean conservative influencers, podcasters and alternative media companies based in Florida are going to get WRECKED solely because they are conservative.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • John Lentini

    February 26, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    The right wing nut jobs figured out that they could get sued for defaming liberals, which they do all the time. Too bad. It would have been fun to watch them get hoisted on their own petard.

    • TJC

      February 26, 2024 at 3:24 pm

      Yes, it’s funny that Florida House legislators believed DeSantis when he said it would be a good idea to get after those liberal media outlets that don’t fawn over him like Fox.
      But the lawyers who cover asses at Fox and other “conservative” media said, Oh hell no, this is going to backfire, you idiots!
      Situation comedy, Tallahassee style.

  • Christian Nationalist Fort florida

    February 27, 2024 at 6:41 am

    $787,000,000 Faux Christian Nationalists gave away…

Comments are closed.


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