Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis formally kicked off his 2024 campaign for president with a Twitter Spaces discussion with tech billionaire Elon Musk — an event that was widely derided as disastrous after a series of technical problems.
But according to The Daily Beast, during the discussion, DeSantis made one eyebrow-raising claim in particular: that all the stories about school book bans in Florida are not true.
"Ron DeSantis went straight into several diatribes knocking 'the left' and 'the media' for creating false stories about his record as governor," said the report. "Among his claims was that there had been no 'book bans' in Florida during his tenure — calling any report to the contrary an outright 'hoax.” He then admitted that some books have in fact been removed from school libraries — but only ones that include 'pornography' and critical race theory.
This is not the first time DeSantis has claimed reports of book bans are a "hoax." However, as investigative reporter Judd Legum has noted, he is leaving out thousands of books that were not technically "banned" but were challenged and have been pulled from shelves pending a lengthy review process, which functionally has the same effect and sends a chilling message to teachers about what they can show in their classrooms. In some other cases, material was not banned outright but grade-restricted for unclear reasons, such as the Amanda Gorman poem "The Hills We Climb," which was read at President Joe Biden's inauguration.
As for the claim about "pornography," the law allowing books to be removed does not clearly define that term, opening the door to challenges against any book that even mentions sexuality or deals with sexual topics or themes. And this goes beyond books — a school principal in Tallahassee was forced to resign after some students at the school were shown images of the nude Statue of David.
DeSantis enters the presidential race a distant second behind former President Donald Trump, who remains the heavy favorite to be re-nominated in 2024 according to recent polling.