On the morning of May 6, journalists began noticing that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had barred news media from entering the signing ceremony for Senate Bill 90, a restrictive election law that some opponents have called the “revival of Jim Crow.” Steve Bousquet, a columnist at the Sun Sentinel, tweeted that the media was barred from the bill signing because it was a “Fox exclusive.” (In a later statement, Fox News claimed that it “did not request or mandate” the exclusive.)
According to Spectrum News, opponents of Florida’s SB 90 “fear that it will mostly affect people of color, the elderly and the disabled, among others. They also point out that vote-by-mail had become more popular among Democrats in the 2020 election.” The law follows a recently passed Georgia elections law that was criticized for similar reasons, amid a wave of Republican state governments attempting to limit voting rights access after President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, in large part thanks to overwhelming support among people who voted by mail.
DeSantis got his “Fox exclusive” on today’s Fox & Friends, signing the bill on-air against a backdrop of jubilant, cheering supporters, after offering commentary on an array of right-wing media grievances such as calls to “defund the police,” too-generous federal unemployment aid, and federal coronavirus aid “reward[ing] bad behavior.” To co-host Steve Doocy’s likely feigned surprise, DeSantis held up a poster to falsely suggest that the collection of absentee ballots, derisively called “ballot harvesting,” is some kind of fraud mechanism that must be shut down to protect democracy.
DeSantis and Fox News are using widespread rumor-mongering about fraud and the 2020 election to restrict citizens’ ability to vote, right after former President Donald Trump, a hero to DeSantis and Fox, lost an election with the highest participation rates in at least 41 years. DeSantis has a Trump-esque obsession with Fox News, thanking its hosts for his political fortunes and using the network to define himself and his government. And Fox News eats the exclusive up because it helps Fox continue to push the same narratives nationwide, encouraging other Republican-led states to make it harder for Americans to vote.