On March 20, presumed presidential candidate and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to a question about former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment with common conservative messaging, saying the Manhattan district attorney involved is a “Soros-funded prosecutor” who is imposing “a political agenda on society.” But some of DeSantis’ other commentary lit pro-Trump media up in fury.
In the middle of attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis also said, “Look, I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair." DeSantis’ drive-by comment, about the reason Trump is rumored to be facing indictment, echoes years of liberal and mainstream criticism of Trump. He also indicated that he would not get involved in the potential indictment “in any way,” saying that he was instead focused on “real issues.”
The governor’s commentary led to a flood of Trump supporters condemning his “catastrophic miscalculation” and “pure weakness.”
Although some of these pro-Trump voices still express appreciation for DeSantis, his comments have fueled the growing sense in some right-wing media circles that “he is establishment and will be a major disappointment to those who think otherwise.” The response to DeSantis' comments is more proof that media allies of Trump and DeSantis are moving toward open war.
- On Real America's Voice’s War Room, host Steve Bannon and radio host John Fredericks attacked DeSantis for his comments, with Bannon claiming it was “not an acceptable response” and Fredericks calling DeSantis’ statement “one of the most unbelievable, feckless, weasel, consultant-driven responses in a crisis you've ever heard.”
- On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. took particular offense to DeSantis claiming the possible indictment is not a “real issue” and called his comments “pure weakness,” claiming the governor is “totally owned by Karl Rove, Paul Ryan & his billionaire donors.”
- Trump’s other son, Eric Trump, also took to Twitter to claim that when “they do the exact same thing to him, his friends and his family,” DeSantis will “neither have the backbone, nor the resources” to defend himself against the “corrupt system.” He also said DeSantis is “not the guy I thought he was.”
- Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec shared a video of DeSantis’ comments, highlighting DeSantis’ pledge to not get involved with the investigation. Posobiec also tweeted “Et tu, Brute?” seemingly in reference to DeSantis’ comments.
- After wishing DeSantis well, far-right troll Mike Cernovich called the speech a “catastrophic miscalculation” that was “disappointing to me.” Cernovich claimed the incident would make it “easier for me to remain objective” moving forward in the 2024 presidential race.
- Daily Wire host Candace Owens claimed on Twitter that DeSantis supporters “saw things in DeSantis that were never there.” In another tweet, Owens praised DeSantis for handling COVID-19 “correctly and bravely” but said he is “not America first.”
- Blaze Media host Steve Deace tweeted a short essay that called DeSantis “the best and most successful GOP politician of modern times” but also relayed his hope that DeSantis makes a stronger statement backing Trump.
- Failed Republican House candidate and anti-Muslim troll Laura Loomer claimed DeSantis mocked Trump by stating he “doesn’t know much about paying porn stars off” and used the barb to address DeSantis’ supposed “shorter prison sentences for Child porn crimes.”
- Conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza tweeted his disappointment about the back-and-forth attacks between Trump and DeSantis and claimed DeSantis should have realized the Trump investigation and possible arrest “has NOTHING to do with paying off a porn star.”
- Daily Wire host Matt Walsh called the statement from DeSantis “not good.” Walsh called his decision to not back Trump more forcefully in light of the potential indictment an “unforced error here.”
- Revolver News owner Darren Beattie implied that DeSantis’ statement showed he is lacking “good political instincts.” Beattie said about the comments, “This is bad.”
- Right-wing activist Raheem Kassam tweeted “Woooooow” about DeSantis suggesting the potential arrest is “not a ‘real issue.’”