Angelo Carusone: DeSantis' migrant stunt is directly linked to the Fox feedback loop

Carusone: The public needs to understand that Fox News is “not just pushing misinformation and extreme ideas. They're operationalizing them too.”

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Citation From the September 18, 2022, edition of MSNBC's American Voices with Alicia Menendez

ALICIA MENENDEZ (HOST): Back with some video for all of you who, like me, might be wondering where Republican governors got their idea for busing migrants to blue cities. Fox News strikes again.


MENENDEZ: Joining me now, Media Matters president Angelo Carusone. Angelo, it's like they workshopped the idea and then they're like, here's a free, terrible idea that you can have to actually execute on.

ANGELO CARUSONE (MEDIA MATTERS PRESIDENT): Yeah. And they also demonstrate that they're willing to then follow through once you execute on that idea and give you all kinds of rewards.

And I think when we think about where did Martha's Vineyard even come from, why did DeSantis pick that? Well, there's good reason.

Governor Abbott's bussing got 346 segments on Fox News alone – just his actions got 346 segments, all of which were positive, praising, rewarding him. So if you're DeSantis, what you need to do is you not only need to replicate that action rate, but you need to then, as you point out, you need to do something that's going to take one of the ideas that they begin to germinate and pluck it or give it a little bit of enrichment. And that's where the Martha's Vineyard comes from because, yeah, you know, DeSantis listed a couple of cities when they first were pushing this thing through back in Florida. But what Tucker did in July was put a big bull's eye on Martha's Vineyard. By calling it out explicitly, what he was demonstrating was that if any governor were willing to take or follow through on that, that they would be rewarded heavily with praise.

And you know, Fox and DeSantis are in cahoots, which is why Fox News was the only other entity that knew about this movement other than the governor's office. So I think that is part of this feedback loop that I think the public needs to understand is that they're not just pushing misinformation and extreme ideas. They're operationalizing them too.

MENENDEZ: I'm sorry. I don't even know how to follow up on that, because that is what makes this so frightening, right? That we know that what gets rewarded gets replicated. And so even as we're sitting here saying this is inhumane, this is potentially illegal, how could they do this? That's not the lens they're looking at this through. They're looking at this through the lens of, well, I continue to get accolades from the people I care about most.

CARUSONE: That's right. And to put you know, to illustrate it, one of the alarm bells for me was, you know, DeSantis understands this better than most people. Probably other than Trump, he's probably the only person who's really received the most tangible short-term benefit from his relationship with Fox News because back in 2018, DeSantis was at the bottom of the Republican primary for governor in Florida. He was way at the bottom. He was struggling. And then all of a sudden he got a bunch of attention from Fox in a short period of time, and he got 100 segments because he was actually doing this playbook but on a smaller scale. He was taking individual things that Fox hosts were calling for, really extreme ideas that were not getting any national attention. But he was willing to do segments about them, to talk about them, to say that he would put them into his administration. And that, of course, gave him attention that helped catapult him not just to the front of the pack, to the pack, but the governor's office.

And one of them, I join that with what Tucker did in August, which is that he gave a directive the way that Rush Limbaugh used to do, as sort of like the center of gravity for the Republican Party. What Tucker said in August is that not enough Republicans were running on immigration and that that is what they needed to do – was not just to run on it, but shift the conversation to immigration, shift to the crime – shift that narrative, shift it to great replacement theory. But he made a declaration.

And so to put a bow on it, you have somebody that intimately understands the benefit of this feedback loop, Tucker, out there demanding that others do it. DeSantis then leverages that, tries to do something a little different than Abbott to get that extra pop of attention.

But what I worry about is that this is now the beginning of a larger process of the rest of the Republican apparatus, following through with Tucker's directive back in August.

MENENDEZ: Especially because you have real people whose lives are in the crosshairs of this political theater. And we know what this is all about, Angelo, know to your point about Tucker saying let's pivot to immigration because what they thought they were going to run on, right, just slamming Democrats on the economy is not actually going to work for them. And in addition to that, they're now contending with their overreach on Roe. And so instead, we are watching this all unfold.

Angelo Carusone, as always, thank you for connecting the dots for us.