As we reported last month in the aftermath of the Capitol riots and Big Tech’s crackdown on Republican accounts and platforms, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made it clear that he was not going to sit back and take the punishment social media giants like Facebook and Twitter were unleashing on conservatives for simply being conservatives.
In a speech he gave in Texas less a little over a week after the Capitol was breached, DeSantis said “the most important legislative issue” for the state of Florida in 2021 was to make it harder for Big Tech to censor conservative content.
“We need to really think deeply about if we are a disfavored class based on our principles, based on having conservative views, based on being a Christian, based on whatever you can say that is not favored in Silicon Valley,” DeSantis stated at the time. “I think it’s probably the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right this year and next year.”
Today, DeSantis held a press conference where he announced a legislative proposal that if passed would, among other things, impose fines on social media companies for deplatforming political candidates as well as protect the privacy rights of Floridians.
During the presser, reporters were true to form with the gotcha questions. Here’s how DeSantis handled one reporter’s question about whether or not he believed President Trump’s claim that the election was stolen:
The governor sparred at one point during the conference with a reporter who asked whether he agreed with Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was “stolen,” arguing in response that Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) made similar claims about the 2016 election without facing retaliation by tech titans.
How many people tweeted in 2016 … that Russia stole the election for Trump?” DeSantis said. “That happened every day, thousands of times a day. Nancy Pelosi said, ‘The election was taken from us by Russia.’ Did any of those people get deplatformed? I don’t remember anyone even calling for them to be deplatformed.”
REPORTER: Do you agree the election was stolen?
DESANTIS: How many people tweeted in 2016 the election was stolen? Pelosi said the election was taken by Russia. Did any of them get deplatformed? … Those claims were amplified by Big Tech for years. pic.twitter.com/YaqSqgTgzF
— August Takala (@AugustTakala) February 2, 2021
At another point, another reporter brought up to DeSantis how there were accounts that were deplatformed because they supposedly tweeted something that “provoked” the platform’s attention to deplatform it.
DeSantis was having none of it:
“The Hunter Biden story was true. The typical corporate media outlets chose to ignore it. They wanted to beat Trump,” he said, adding that the report about President Biden’s son “couldn’t get any traction” weeks before the election.
He said reporters wouldn’t have hesitated to go after him if he were the subject of the same story.
“You’re trying to tell me if there’s hacked information that could damage me, you guys wouldn’t print it? Give me a break.” DeSantis said. “You guys would print it every single day if you could. And Big Tech would allow it to proliferate 24/7.”
Gov. DeSantis calls out journalists defending big tech censorship of the Hunter Biden story:
“You're trying to tell me if there was hacked information that could damage me, you wouldn't print it?… You can whiz on my leg, but don’t tell me it’s raining."pic.twitter.com/jrepVdOYL1
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 2, 2021
He was clearly in no mood to play games.
DeSantis did note that there were unquestionably some forms of speech that crossed the line (like threatening physical harm), but he also raised an important question that often gets lost in discussions about Big Tech censorship:
“But who gets to make those determinations [about what constitutes ”misinformation”]?”
The man has a point. Exactly who gets to decide?