Fox News has been allowing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom the network's producers privately laud as a "GOP star" and "the future of the Republican Party," to carefully stage his appearances.
The Tampa Bay Times obtained emails showing that from early November (when president Donald Trump was defeated) through February, Fox News asked DeSantis to appear on the network a whopping 113 times, or nearly once a day.
"There are few surprises when DeSantis goes live with Fox," the Times reported based on the emails, adding that the events are "carefully crafted with guidance from DeSantis' team."
"Topics, talking points and even graphics are shared in advance," the Times reported. "Once, a Fox producer offered to let DeSantis pick the subject matter if he agreed to come on."
Before one appearance in January, DeSantis' deputy director for communications, Meredith Beatrice, sent Fox News a chart showing that Florida compared favorably to "lockdown states" California and New York in terms of COVID-19 cases, encouraging the network to use the graphic. And Fox News did so without providing viewers with any indication that it came directly from the governor's office.
Meanwhile, other emails show Fox's producers fawning over DeSantis in emails to his staff begging him to appear on the network.
"By turning to DeSantis to fill the many hours of airtime once devoted to former President Donald Trump, Fox has made Florida's hard-charging leader one of the country's most recognizable Republicans," the Times reported. "That has given DeSantis a leg up on others who may seek the party's nomination for president in 2024."
But DeSantis won't go on just any Fox News show. He has declined requests to be interviewed by Chris Wallace, the Fox News Sunday host known for tough questions, and by chief political correspondent Bret Baier.
Since November, DeSantis has scheduled 21 appearances with Fox News' primetime opinion hosts — eight with Sean Hannity, six with Tucker Carlson, and seven with Laura Ingraham. During that same period, he has met with his lieutenant governor only seven times, and since the beginning of the year, he has not scheduled a single one-on-one meeting with the state's top medical official, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.
As Democrat Nikki Fried, who is among those challenging DeSantis in 2022, put it recently on Twitter: "Ron DeSantis acts more like the Governor of Fox News than the Governor of Florida."