Drew's Receipts: Ron DeSantis Gets the Sarah Palin Treatment

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September 3, 2023

Happy Sunday. Let's check in on the media this week.

DeSantis derangement syndrome: News outlets baselessly linked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a deadly shooting last week in Jacksonville. Never mind that the gunman, who authorities said hated black people, had no known connection to DeSantis or his politics.

DeSantis's denunciations of the "scumbag" shooter and racism in general only reinforced his supposed complicity.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was similarly smeared for the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D., Ariz.). Palin had a year earlier posted a map on her website "targeting" Giffords and other Democratic incumbents for electoral defeat, as the Dispatch's Nick Catoggio, aka AllahPundit, recounted:

The belief that Palin had inspired Giffords’ shooter remained so entrenched among liberals that it was still worming its way into New York Times editorials a decade later, when it almost (but not quite) resulted in a defamation judgment against the paper. ...

Liberals waved the bloody shirt not because the mainstream right was radical but because it wasn’t, and they wanted it to be perceived that way. Guilt by association with a mass shooting for the Tea Party’s favorite politician was the means to that end.

The same thing is happening to Ron DeSantis now.

Because they can’t defeat his agenda on the merits at the polls, some Democrats are trying to demagogue it as kindling for domestic terrorism and hoping that that moves the needle against Republicans among swing voters. They’re leveraging an actual crime—an unusually horrendous one—to try to criminalize mainstream politics.

They have bad intentions.

Fair and balanced: Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R., Ky.) "freeze" during a press gaggle inspired an earnest media conversation about what the public has a right to expect from elderly or infirm elected officials. Those questions seemed much less urgent when Democratic politicians were the ones who appeared diminished.

Lockdown watch: It's starting to feel a lot like 2020, and not just because Joe Biden and Donald Trump are running for president. An uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has seen a return of masking and mask mandates—along with the familiar panicked media coverage.

Meanwhile, some journalists have worked to erase the consequences of their previous COVID-19 freakout.

Fear files: Canada issued a travel advisory for "two spirit" and other "LGBTQI+" citizens who are considering visiting the United States, citing "state laws and policies." For the American media, the news was an opportunity to bash "red states."

Washington Post: "Canada Warns LGBTQ People of US State Laws in Updated Travel Advisory":

State legislators across the United States have introduced nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union. "While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people," the ACLU said on its website.

ABC News: "Canada Issues Warning For LGBTQ Travelers in The United States":

The HRC, one of the nation's largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations, in June declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S.

Ahead of Pride Month, celebrated in June, the Department of Homeland Security in May also warned law enforcement and government agencies about "intensified" threats of violence against the community within the previous year.

Reuters: "Canada, Citing Potential Dangers, Warns LGBTQ Travelers of US Risks":

Anti-LGBTQ demonstrations in the U.S. last year rocketed 30-fold compared with 2017 and legal moves to restrict LGBTQ rights are on the rise.

It remained unclear how many travelers could be harmed by Republicans "banning drag shows and restricting the transgender community from access to gender affirming care and from participation in sporting events"—the concerns a Canadian official cited to explain the travel advisory. But Canada did not change its "green" safety rating of the United States, indicating that America is less dangerous than the likes of Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Sweden.

Gold nugget: Believe it or not, the news wasn't all fake this week. The New York Times published a reasonably balanced investigation of whistleblower allegations that doctors at a "prestigious" pediatric gender clinic in St. Louis "hastily prescribed hormones with lasting effects to adolescents with pressing psychiatric problems":

With its psychologists overbooked, the clinic relied on external therapists, some with little experience in gender issues, to evaluate the young patients’ readiness for hormonal medications. Doctors prescribed hormones to patients who had obtained such approvals, even adolescents whose medical histories raised red flags. Some of these patients later stopped identifying as transgender, and received little to no support from the clinic after doing so.

Unwanted outcomes and regrets happen in every branch of medicine, but several clinics around the world have reported challenges similar to those in St. Louis. Pediatric gender medicine is a nascent specialty, and few studies have tracked how patients fare in the long term, making it difficult for doctors to judge who is likely to benefit.

The mild scrutiny of minors receiving off-label drugs with permanent side effects and no proven benefits after perfunctory screenings was an unbearable outrage to GLAAD. But some journalists at the Times and elsewhere faced down the influential "transphobia" watchdog.

Stay safe out there, and see you next week.