February 28, 2021

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RE: “Where Do the ‘Florida Morons’ Go for Their Apology”

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To the Editor:

As a Floridian who spent last semester at home due to Florida’s placement on a COVID-19 travel advisory, I feel compelled to respond to Matthew Samilow’s column, “Where do the Florida Morons Go For Their Apology?” 

Part of Samilow’s defense of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-F.L.) asserts that he’s a victim of unfair (liberal) media. Media criticism and scrutiny of DeSantis is dismissed as “hysterical”, while Samilow ignores why DeSantis’s handling of the pandemic is so unpopular in Florida.

During the pandemic, DeSantis has argued against science itself by listening to the anti-mask advice of the infamous conspiracy theorist Dr. Scott Atlas more than epidemiologists. He modeled poor leadership by appearing at public events like the Super Bowl without a mask. DeSantis’s crusade against science extended to basic arithmetic, when he argued in July that Florida’s positive case count had stabilized –– it hadn’t. He then doubled down by hiring a sports blogger as a data analyst and firing an analyst who refused to manipulate numbers. 

While Samilow lauds DeSantis’s petty squabbles with journalists as vote-winning behavior for the 2024 GOP primary, the governor’s evasive pandemic briefings mislead the public, as the Sun-Sentinel confirmed. Samilow gives it away: DeSantis is more interested in running for president in 2024 than handling COVID-19. But the Governor’s incompetency in handling the vaccine rollout should temper his ambitions, and Samilow’s praise. DeSantis is indeed prioritizing wealthy, white communities for vaccine distribution, while Florida’s communities of color suffer the most. Does Samilow believe rich Florida communities deserve special access to the vaccine?

Samilow’s assertion that we Floridians “are lucky to have [DeSantis] as governor” is more laughable than a Florida Man headline. But this one would be easy to write: “Florida Governor Tried to Fist-Fight Truth and Science: Gets Beaten in 2022.”

Joseph Mullen ’24