Major GOP fundraiser with Ron DeSantis shuts out multiple media outlets

  • The Republican Party of Florida has already invited many media to its big “Sunshine Summit” fundraiser.
  • But this year, the list was much more exclusive, even though Insider had access to a dinner.
  • DeSantis often speaks out against the media but answers a wide range of questions during press conferences.

HOLLYWOOD, Florida— The Florida Republican Party and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign on Saturday denied credentials to numerous reporters for a major fundraiser that typically includes a broader media presence.

Among the publications denied at the “Sunshine Summit” were the breakout speeches, debates and banquet at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Policythe palm beach postand the Miami Herald.

The Washington Post and New York Times were also not granted access, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

The Florida Republican Party invited only a few outlets, including Insider, to cover the “Victory Dinner” in person. Other media present included the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, Florida Sun-Sentinel and Tampa Bay Times.

“I have covered the RPOF annual convention since 2012,” a reporter who was not on the list told Insider, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by his employer to do so. interviews. “I’ve never had a collection problem. It is not normal.

The 2015 summit had 350 accredited media. Donald Trump spoke that year as a presidential candidate.

Journalists allowed to attend the “victory dinner” sat on risers at the back of the banquet hall, where 1,500 people dined on a meal of fish and steak.

Governor Ron DeSantis was the featured speaker, although guests also heard from Senator Marco Rubio, who is up for re-election this year, and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez.

According to a spreadsheet obtained by Politico and job on Twitter. Insider did not receive an invite to the other parts of the summit and only learned on Saturday that the option was available for some outlets.

Reporters who were not authorized to cover the event from inside the hall obtained tapes and interviewed attendees outside the banquet hall.

The Sunshine Summit is a large rally hosted by the Republican Party of Florida, but the Republican National Committee and the DeSantis campaign were also involved in organizing the event.

Asked about the limited guest list, DeSantis campaign spokesman Dave Abrams brushed off the complaints.

“It’s funny that the same reporters who weren’t interested in the Sunshine Summit are the same ones who huddled in a corner across from the entrance hoping to take a peek,” did he declare. “We’re not bothered by their tantrums – in fact, it validates our presumption that fair coverage was never on their mind.”

A timeline of the event shows that the event featured speeches from conservative columnists, Republican presidential candidates and congressional debates.

The Republican Party of Florida did not broadcast the event live, but NBC 6 and other television stations were allowed to broadcast the event live if they wished, spokesperson Lindsey Curnutte said. of the DeSantis campaign. A Getty photographer was invited but did not attend, although a Bloomberg photographer was present.

The Florida GOP live tweeted some of DeSantis’ quotes from his speech.

Curnutte acknowledged that the media this year was “by invitation only,” but did not share details about the selection process.

‘Try crying about it’

DeSantis often comes across as an attack dog against the media at a time when polls show public confidence in the press is low.

DeSantis particularly spoke with reporters about their scrutiny of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida, which often conflicts with federal health guidelines. On Saturday, he bragged about “standing up to the media” and specifically poked fun at “corporate media”.

Still, DeSantis’ actual press relationship is more nuanced. Its official press conferences tend to be open to a wide range of media. During the majority of events, he answers many questions from reporters which are often off topic to the intended purpose of the event, although occasionally he does not answer any questions after an event.

Saturday’s event, on the other hand, was a political event – not an official event for the governor’s office.

“My message to them is to try and cry about it. Then go kickboxing and have a margarita,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said. said on Twitter, mocking a comment previously made by former White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “And write the same hit track you were going to write anyway.”

Pushaw frequently chats with reporters on Twitter and posts screenshots of some media inquiries emailed to the governor’s office.

“Events hosted by the State Office are open to all members of the press who respond and arrive on time,” Pushaw said in an email to Insider after the publication. “As you have seen, the Governor answers questions ranging from friendship to confrontation, from all the reporters who come to his press conferences in Florida.”

The Tallahassee Democrat speculated that the DeSantis campaign might not want the governor’s event to overshadow another event taking place across the state of Tampa, where former President Donald Trump was speaking at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit.

DeSantis spoke at that same summit on Friday night and there is growing speculation that he may choose to run for president in 2024 as Trump continues to dangle the possibility of a race for the presidency. White House. Trump, too, has often clashed with the press.

President Joe Biden’s White House has also faced complaints from journalists over transparency. In June, 68 White House reporters asked press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to stop systematically screening and refusing the same reporters for the president’s public events.

“The White House’s continued failure to be candid and transparent about the selection process for reporters attending his remarks undermines President Biden’s credibility when he says he is an advocate of the First Amendment,” the letter said.

Jean-Pierre said during a White House briefing earlier this month that reopening events was a “priority”.

This story has been updated with a comment from Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Governor Ron DeSantis.

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