Journalists for mainstream media outlets were in an uproar when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new voting law and blocked the media – except for Fox News – from covering the event.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 23-17 and the House 77-40 last week.
The new Florida voting law places restrictions on the use of dropboxes including; limits on placement location and who can drop off ballots, requiring election officials to monitor their opening, and a ban on moving the boxes within 30 days of elections.
The law requires ‘vote by mail’ requests to be made with each election instead of allowing for automatic renewal while adding additional identification requirements for voters requesting absentee ballots.
“Me signing this bill says, ‘Florida, your vote counts,’” DeSantis said in an interview with Fox & Friends.
“Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency, and this is a great place for democracy,” he added.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) just signed the state’s new restrictive voting bill live on Fox News (after barring local press from the bill’s signing). pic.twitter.com/hR2ZXooABy
— The Recount (@therecount) May 6, 2021
Fox News Gets To Cover Florida Voting Law Signing
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DeSantis raised the ire of the local media and other mainstream outlets by giving Fox News exclusive access to the law signing event.
“The governor gave Fox News, his preferred cable news outlet, an exclusive to broadcast the bill signing ceremony from West Palm Beach on Thursday morning,” the New York Times reported.
As you can imagine, other media outlets were not pleased.
The Times called the move to give Fox exclusive access “unusual, if not unprecedented.”
CBS 12 reporter Jay O’Brien tweeted his dismay that their outlet was “not allowed into the event” because they are “assigned to feed this event to affiliates nationwide.”
“Not a single reporter is being let in. This, in a ‘sunshine’ state that prides itself on open government,” he scoffed.
This isn’t a story about the press being locked out of an event. It’s about Floridians who had their eyes and ears in that room cut off. @GovRonDeSantis signed a law today that will impact ALL Floridians. And only some viewers were allowed to see it.
That’s not normal.
— Jay O’Brien (@jayobtv) May 6, 2021
On National News
Some mainstream reporters suggested Fox News should boycott the event in solidarity with their journo colleagues.
“If I worked at Fox, I would refuse to cover the bill signing unless all my colleagues at other outlets could,” CBS News’ Kathryn Watson tweeted. “It’s the right thing to do.”
If I worked at Fox, I would refuse to cover the bill signing unless all my colleagues at other outlets could. It’s the right thing to do. https://t.co/KuscDQ6UcJ
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) May 6, 2021
CNN’s Brian Stelter retweeted the message.
Other journalists were less than pleased:
This is not normal. https://t.co/jF0deSswco
— Daniel Strauss (@DanielStrauss4) May 6, 2021
One journalist even lamented the death of democracy:
DeSantis is signing bill to roll back voting access after Dems used vote by mail more than Republicans for first time in state history & won’t even let media other than Fox cover it. Democracy literally dying in the dark https://t.co/XylcGdIaou
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) May 6, 2021
Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell applauded DeSantis’ move to limit who could witness the signing of the Florida voting law.
“He has every right to keep hecklers from left-wing news outlets from disrupting his events,” Bozell tweeted. “They’re already lying about the new law.”
There goes the Governor. He Said the event wasn’t secret, “it was on national news” pic.twitter.com/YWs82cDPjB
— Danielle Waugh (@DanielleCBS12) May 6, 2021
DeSantis dismissed the notion that the event was secret saying, “it was on national news.”
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