Sharyl Attkisson never worked at the New York Times but knows how newsrooms work. She was an investigative correspondent for CBS. In 2008, she heard a speech by then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton claimed that on a visit to Bosnia, she had to run to her car while dodging sniper fire. Attkisson was on that trip and on the Clinton plane. Her reaction when she heard Clinton’s claim was “she didn’t dodge sniper.” In fact, Clinton was handed flowers by a little girl on the airport tarmac.
A few days later, Attkisson exposed that lie. Clinton claimed she might have “misspoken.”
It was one of the dwindling moments at CBS where she was allowed to pursue Democrat lies. She witnesses more and more stories swept under the rug because it might damage people in power. Democrats in power. After she left her job at CBS she wrote several books – one of those books is titled Slanted.
Slanted discusses at length how news media creates a narrative and finds facts to fit it rather than just following facts. She discusses how news media are now inclined to pick those preconceived conclusions and then go in search of things to fit the story. Editors will reject pitches that would hurt democrats but gleefully assign multiple people to a story that would hurt Republicans.
I wrote about that subject on Monday. The Los Angeles Times assigned close to a dozen staff members to the Paul Pelosi attack with the pre-conclusion of a national trend, a wave of “right-wing” political violence. In reality, it’s just a crazy homeless guy who heard voices in his head and thought he was Jesus Christ. The paper assigned zero staff to the Rand Paul attack.
The New York Times, the “paper of record” is a leftist rag. Two years ago, it tarred, feathered, and fired an editor for publishing the 2020 Tom Cotton editorial, and Bari Weiss had to leave the paper because leftist staff members were dictating what was “news fit to print”.
On Saturday, the New York Times published a hit piece on Ron DeSantis titled “Pranks, Parties, and Politics: Ron DeSantis’s Year as a Schoolteacher”
The first several paragraphs describe a first-year high school teacher who was popular and energetic. He taught 5 classes of history, coached both football and baseball, and was one of the dormitory supervisors – something a fellow teacher called a “triple-threat”. In short, the 23-year-old Ron DeSantis was a hard worker. Then come the slurs.
The author is Frances Robles. She is the New York Times Florida correspondent and lives in Florida. A retweet on her Twitter feed shows the following link to her article, where her New York Times colleague claims:
A window into a little known period in the life of Gov. Ron DeSantis — a time when he partied with high school students and insisted that the Civil War was not about slavery — by @FrancesRobles. https://t.co/TVv8B0TCJ7
— stephanie saul (@stefsaul) November 5, 2022
According to Robles’ own article, none of that is true.
Although some of the former students recall DeSantis attending parties with his students, none of them describe him attending any during the school year. In the article:
Two former students, both women, remembered him attending at least two parties where alcohol was served, but they said that the parties took place after graduation and that they were not bothered by his presence at the time, although they question it now.
Robles also claims that DeSantis insisted that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, but that also is a red herring. Robles quotes one student who said DeSantis took a “devil’s advocate” position when teaching. Challenging a class with a contrary view and asking that students defend their position isn’t “insisting” on a position – it’s how history should be taught. It’s the Socratic method. When I was in school, the very best teacher I had was a self-described liberal and she often took a conservative point of view and demanded that students defeat her with facts.
About the midpoint in the article comes Robles’ money quote when she quotes a woman named Danielle Pompey:
“Mr. Ron, Mr. DeSantis, was mean to me and hostile toward me,” said Ms. Pompey, who graduated in 2003. “Not aggressively, but passively, because I was Black.”
Ms. Pompey is also the former student who said DeSantis took the devil’s advocate position in the class. If any part of Pompey’s story is accurate Pompey likely mistook DeSantis challenging her as being “mean” and 20 years later, she remembers it as wholly racial. It is an absurd, silly contention. It reads like Pompey is still 16 years-old closing in on 40. And the claim isn’t backed up by any other former student.
Another “money quote” isn’t even a quote. It’s wholly made up. A “quote” from a student-produced joke video that Robles blows completely out of context. From her article:
The Times… [watched a] short video in which a voice purporting to be Mr. DeSantis is heard saying: “The Civil War was not about slavery! It was about two competing economic systems. One was in the North. …” while a student dozes in class. (A student voiced the role of Mr. DeSantis because students did not have any actual footage of him, according to a student who helped put it together.)
Robles “evidence” that DeSantis insisted that the Civil War was fought over competing economies, is a 20-year-old parody video produced by 16 and 17-year-olds.
On the issue of abortion – One former student remembered his girlfriend complaining about DeSantis’ on abortion and that DeSantis took the position that abortion was “wrong” saying:
I’m from California and “I disagreed with DeSantis’s stance”.
Hard-hitting stuff, for sure.
What was clearly written as a hit-job with the intent of smearing DeSantis as a racist history teacher who didn’t know why the Civil War started and who partied with teenagers, did just the opposite. I took it as Robles’ best effort to smear DeSantis and she took a rake to the face. The best she could manage was to find one disgruntled woman with no corroboration to back up her “he was mean to me because I am black” claim. And the real scandal? A 23-year-old DeSantis attended a couple of parties after graduation with his former students. Stunning.
I think Robles story pitch went something like this:
Hey, I have a great idea and I want to run it right before the election. A Democratic super PAC found a grainy photo of Ron DeSantis with a bunch of his former students – and one is holding… a beer. He taught high school history at a private school and there was also a dormitory. I bet he said something racist.
I want to do a deep drive and interview his former students. I bet there’s plenty of dirt to dig up. If there is one photo there has to be more. Right? Maybe I can find some black former students who hate his guts. It’ll be a corker. I might win a Pulitzer!
By the way, the Times called DeSantis for comment on the story. He declined. That is how you handle hacks.
What happened in reality? Likely it was the scenario, much like what Sharyl Attkisson describes in “Slanted”. Reporters and Editors looked for dirt and if they found anything they would spin it in the worst possible light. Robles found little to justify her hit piece and, in my opinion only increased DeSantis’ street cred.
I had a couple of “cool” teachers like DeSantis. I wish I had more.