Questionable Report of a DeSantis/Trump ‘Feud’ Shows Press Continues to Turn Political During a Tragedy

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

As Governor DeSantis oversees recovery efforts the media looks for a fight.

The bodies of two children have been discovered, bringing the updated confirmed death count at the collapsed condominium in Surfside, Florida to eighteen. The work is slow, arduous, and unrewarding but deeply necessary, as fragments of hope remain that rescues can still take place. The community is still rocked and teams of workers and organizers are on site, including Florida’s governor, yet some in the press are intent on turning the focus onto Gov. DeSantis.

It has been a disturbing reality that in this time of serious work there have been those in the press looking instead to use this tragedy to score political points. The latest comes from The Washington Examiner, which is reporting that Gov. DeSantis is upset with a planned rally by President Trump for this weekend and supposedly calling for the event to be postponed. This is pointed at as an alleged feud between the former president and the presidential hopeful, a political drama being woven at a time when the focus is actually on more dire needs.

According to The Examiner:

Former President Donald Trump is rejecting pleas from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to postpone a campaign-style rally this weekend some 200 miles from the Miami suburb where an international search-and-rescue mission is excavating bodies from the site of a collapsed seaside condominium.

DeSantis’s office has “made a direct plea” to the former president’s team, calling on it to postpone the Saturday event in Sarasota. One Florida Republican bluntly said Trump and his team need to “read the room.”

This continues the practice we have seen from the press in the past week showing a willingness to stoop to making political hits in the wake of a baffling tragedy. The Washington Post accused DeSantis of irresponsibility in issuing an emergency order, when the facts were he had done so in brisk fashion. Then there was the farcical charge that deregulation orders had been behind the building collapse. These were not just political critiques but journalistic errors, absent facts that could be found through basic research.

This Examiner piece is more than hinting at a percolating debate, this smacks more of political opportunism. It is something suggested since the information is all supplied by anonymous sources. One unidentified voice claims anger emanating from the governor, and another nameless individual from the Trump side states they have no intent on shifting the rally. Yet concerning those actually going on the record you get a completely different read on the matter.

While occupied with more important duties, the governor’s office issued a statement regarding the report, which essentially undermined the entire premise.

Governor DeSantis is focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida — from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally — should be canceled or postponed. He wants all Floridians to enjoy the holiday weekend and celebrate Independence Day however they choose, while keeping the Surfside families and first responders in their prayers.

There are fingerprints all over this claim to suggest it is little more than a planted story. The first is the perception the rally, being held 200 miles from the Miami suburb, is taking place in the backyard of the tragedy. Sarasota is on the opposite coast, just a short drive from the Tampa Bay area, nowhere near the South Florida site. 

Other elements in this report had curious signs of opposition involvement. In one passage it is commented that Trump is just “a former reality TV star.” Later there is mention of President Biden’s visit to the disaster site today, and he is positioned favorably as a presence of calm and reason. Biden is said to be “Setting up a clear contrast,” after referencing the alleged feud taking place. The 46th president has lost a wife, daughter, and adult son, and even his GOP critics say empathy is one of his strengths as a politician; Trump has rarely flashed the same trait in public, opting instead for brash rhetoric.”

This spells out what we are being served here. In the midst of a grievous event, yet another news outlet sees a chance to land political blows, leveraging a tragedy for traction in the public consciousness and delivering agitprop through the use of numerous anonymous sources. The craven opportunism is emblematic of so many problems in the media today.