Three days before the midterms, the New York Times published the results of some digging into the long-ago past of Ron DeSantis.
The result: When he was a history teacher at a boarding school 20 years ago – this was after he graduated from Yale and before he went to Harvard Law – a few students didn’t like him.
Seriously? Is this the best the Times could come up with on the Florida governor and possible 2024 candidate?
When DeSantis taught at Darlington School, where he also coached football and baseball, he was popular and widely considered cool, according to the piece (though I will say he had an awful haircut).
But “as a teacher, he was remembered by some former students as cocky and arrogant. He once publicly embarrassed a student with a prank.” Gasp.
Later in the story, one Black student was quoted as saying DeSantis “‘was mean to me and hostile toward me. Not aggressively, but passively, because I was Black.’ She recalled Mr. DeSantis teaching Civil War history in a way that sounded to her like an attempt to justify slavery.”
But a white student in the same class said DeSantis “wasn’t so much politically opinionated” but “factually wrong,” such as falsely claiming that every southern city was burned during the war. Another student said they “talked among themselves about Mr. DeSantis expressing his strict belief that abortion was wrong.”
Oh, and “several students described Mr. DeSantis as having an air of superiority.”
So let’s see: He was smug and voiced more personal opinions than would have been appropriate for a teacher. Doesn’t even sound as damaging as Mitt Romney strapping his dog to the roof of the car.
The larger point is that left-leaning news organizations have been dropping whatever oppo they have in the runup to today’s election. It oozes out of every section. On the cover of Sunday’s Times Magazine is Leah Spicer, a Democratic candidate for the Assembly in Wisconsin, under the headline “Decades of Neglect Have Led to a Crisis in State Legislatures for the Democrats. Can This Year’s Candidates Make Up Ground?” (When Republicans hit a rough patch, I don’t recall reading any mainstream stories on how this is a “crisis” they have to overcome.)
My next example is actually a perfectly legitimate story, which nonetheless underscores the harsh media spotlight trained on MAGA Republican candidates.
This Times story, which also dropped three days before the election, focuses on Kari Lake, the Trump-backed conservative running for Arizona governor, who was deemed so extreme that Democrats tried to help her in the primaries and the media dismissed her as unelectable. Now she’s in a virtual tie with Katie Hobbs, who won’t even debate her, and widely expected to win.
But it was a different story during her 25 years as a Phoenix anchor.
“One longtime former co-worker in the television news business recalled that Kari Lake detested guns and practiced Buddhism. Another former local news anchor, Stephanie Angelo, who did not work with Ms. Lake but later became close friends with her, described Ms. Lake back then as ‘a free spirit’ and ‘liberal to the core,’ someone who never would have said that abortion should be illegal.”
Seven former colleagues and two former friends said Lake had expressed more liberal views on guns, drag queens and illegal immigrants. And you don’t have to take their word for it: she tweeted favorably about Barack and Michelle Obama and donated to the Obama campaign.
Now she rails against “fake news,” says she’ll be the media’s “worst nightmare” and in one instance called reporters “monsters.” And there are reports she talked to Trump about being his running mate in two years.
That kind of change of heart is fair game – and yet doesn’t seem to matter.
Look, Donald Trump used to be pro-choice and supported Democrats in New York before making a White House bid as a conservative Republican. Arizona conservatives may simply believe that Lake evolved, or had an epiphany, and they and some independents may simply trust her after her long tenure as a local anchor.
We may well be in an era where the stuff that journalists dig up doesn’t matter anymore, either because of deep distrust of the media or because everything is about grabbing or holding onto power.