On Sunday, the Washington Post accused U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for governor of Florida, of racism for speaking at conferences held by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-of-center organization led by Horowitz, who has made his name pointing out liberal hypocrisy, particularly in academia.
The Post filed the story – “GOP candidate for Fla. Governor spoke at racially charged events,” by Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown – under “Investigations,” implying it had unearthed some compromising information when all it had done was reveal DeSantis had appeared at the popular gatherings of conservative activists four separate times in the last five years.
The speeches were public, taped and widely distributed, and the remarks DeSantis made were not concealed. But it was part of a pattern, Reinhard and Brown implied.
DeSantis, “a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.”
It further explained: “At the group’s annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues.”
To make clear this was no accident or misunderstanding … that DeSantis knew what kind of group he was speaking to but did it anyway, the Post supplied this quote from a speech in 2015 in Charleston, S.C.
“’I just want to say what an honor it’s been to be here to speak,’ DeSantis said in a 27-minute speech at the 2015 event in Charleston, a video shows. ‘David has done such great work, and I’ve been an admirer. I’ve been to these conferences in the past, but I’ve been a big admirer of an organization that shoots straight, tells the American people the truth and is standing up for the right thing.”
The story accused DeSantis of “using racially tinged language” – referring to a remark he made warning Floridians not to “monkey up” their state’s booming economy by electing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, an avowed socialist who has promised to raise taxes and increase regulations if elected.
The two controversies – both ginned up largely by the Post – mean “race has become a central issue in the nation’s largest battleground state,” the story read.
As proof of the racist nature of Horowitz’s conferences, the Post wrote: “Fellow speakers included a former Google engineer who was fired after arguing that ‘biological causes’ in part explain why there are relatively few women working in tech and leadership; a critic of multiculturalism who has written that ‘Europe is committing suicide’ by welcoming large numbers of refugees and immigrants; and a British media personality who urged the audience to keep the United States from becoming like the United Kingdom, where ‘discrimination against whites is institutionalized and systemic.’”
Later in the story, the Post delved again into the racist angle. “DeSantis four appearances at the annual events – only one of which, the 2017 speech, had been previously reported – are coming to light at a time when his positions on matters of race are under scrutiny.” It then admitted “in three of the four speeches reviewed by the Washington Post, DeSantis delivered sharp-edged conservative criticism of Democratic policies without explicitly touching on race.”
The story then relates Gillum’s possible problems with an FBI probe into corruption in Tallahassee’s city government. But it quickly returns to the point of the story.
“As Gillum grapples with the fallout of the FBI probe, race has come to the fore in the campaign,” it says again.
Photo by Gage Skidmore