Ron DeSantis is going to war with Disney.
On Thursday, he signaled a willingness to rescind a more than 5-decade-old provision that allows the entertainment giant to operate as an independent government around its massive park in Orlando.
“Disney has alienated a lot of people now,” DeSantis said. “And so the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated. And so the question is, why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don’t think that that we should.”
What set DeSantis off is the Mouse’s reaction to what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans schools form teaching kids about sexual orientation or gender identity and which the Florida Republican governor signed into law earlier this week.
(After initially voicing lukewarm opposition to the measure, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that it was “not what many of us were hoping for, especially our LGBTQ+ employees.” He later wrote that the company’s “goal” will be to get the law repealed.)
DeSantis’ decision to seize on the issue comes after wall-to-wall coverage of Disney’s opposition to the law. Primetime hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham dedicated portions of their shows to blasting Disney for allegedly giving in to the “woke” forces in the country.
It’s just the latest example of DeSantis taking cues – and marching orders – from Fox News.
On everything from Covid-19 mitigation measures (or a lack thereof) to critical race theory to the mental acuity of President Joe Biden, DeSantis has used Fox as both a guidepost and an amplifier of where to stand on these issues.
DeSantis understood, rightly, that the vast majority of conservatives in the country get their news from – and solely from – Fox. (In a 2020 Pew poll, 65% of Republicans said they trust Fox for political coverage – 30 points higher than any other network; 6 in 10 Republicans said they got their politics and election news from Fox.)
You can see the results of DeSantis’ aping of Fox talking points. Aside from former President Donald Trump, he is, by far, the best known and liked Republican in the party – regularly winning 2024 straw polls that don’t include Trump.)
There’s also this: Trump soured on Fox in the wake of the 2020 election as, in the main, it refused to vouch for his false claims about election fraud.
“Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there,” Trump tweeted shortly after the 2020 election. “They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!”
Knowing this – and perhaps seeking to amplify the rift – DeSantis has moved into the position of Fox’s #1 mouthpiece in Republican politics.
The Point: Given Fox’s dominance of conservative mindshare, being the preferred candidate of the network is a very good place to be for DeSantis’ national ambitions.