A video of an exchange between Governor Ron DeSantis and a CNN reporter yesterday is making the rounds on social media. DeSantis is developing quite a reputation not suffering fools gladly, especially reporters. He has no tolerance for those who appear to ask agenda-driven questions.
CNN reporter Rosa Flores provided a very good example of why so many Americans are critics of reporters, including cable news reporters. Flores asked a question to the Florida governor about the state’s COVID vaccine efforts at local hospitals. Why are so many senior citizens standing in lines? Why are the websites for people to make appointments to receive the vaccinations crashing? Unfortunately for her, she aggressively interrupted DeSantis as he began to answer her question. He wasn’t having it.
During the press conference, Flores asked, “Governor, what has gone wrong with the rollout of the vaccine that we’ve seen phone lines jammed, websites crashing.” That sounded like a complete question so DeSantis began to answer, explaining that demand is high for the vaccines but Flores interrupted by yelling over him.
“Excuse me, excuse me, you just said, ‘What has gone wrong?’ so I’m answering the question,” DeSantis said as Flores continued to speak over him.
“If I could complete the question, though,” she said.
DeSantis fired back, “So you’re going to give a speech or are you going to ask a question? You asked a question and I’m going to answer it.”
What Flores appeared to be doing was to ask a gotcha-type of a question, blaming DeSantis for problems with the vaccine process in Florida. Instead of letting him talk about the high demand and how the vaccine is being distributed to hospitals who then determine how to get them to Floridians, she did sound like she was trying to deliver a speech. When she asked for him to let her finish her question, he said she did ask a question and he was responding. Their exchange went on in the same manner with the reporter insisting that DeSantis wasn’t allowing her to ask a question. DeSantis even pointed out that the other reporters only asked one question apiece, so her expectation of asking more than one went above what the others were doing. DeSantis continued to cut her off and give his answer. In other words, he treated her as she treated him. She continued to argue with him.
“I am trying to ask you,” Flores said before DeSantis cut her off.
“How many questions? You get three? They only got one question,” he said, pointing to other reporters. “Why do you get three?”
“With all due respect, governor, I’m just asking if I could finish my question,” Flores said.
“You finished the question,” DeSantis said, as Flores snapped back, “I did not.”
The CNN reporter went on to simply repeat the original question.
“What went wrong with the rollout of the vaccine, when we’ve seen phone lines jammed, websites crashing,” Flores said as DeSantis chimed in, “So you’re repeating your question.”
“To complete it for you, governor, we’ve seen websites crash, and also, senior citizens waiting overnight for the vaccine,” Flores said.
DeSantis went on to ask her about specific areas that were having problems. She named off four counties. Desantis explained that some counties are not using a phone registration system. He named one of the four counties specifically and said a hospital was using a first come first serve basis process without advance registration. Desantis went on to ask her why she didn’t investigate why the problems were occurring in those counties herself, which seems like a reasonable question to ask of a reporter. Her job is to ask questions, after all, and not just of the governor.
The reporter clearly wanted to put all the blame on DeSantis. He explained that the state gets the vaccine allotments and then distributes them to hospitals or other facilities. Those facilities are then responsible for getting people vaccinated. There is a plan despite the accusation from Rosa Flores that the governor had no plan to get seniors vaccinated. “So the state is not dictating to hospitals… that would be a total disaster,” the governor explained. She was more concerned that he let her speak than she was to let him respond.
I would post the original tweet from Rosa Flores that I saw earlier this morning but it’s been deleted. What caught my attention was her whiny attitude toward Governor DeSantis. We’ve seen him push back on reporters before this exchange but this reporter falls into the same category as her CNN colleague Jim Acosta. She sounds very entitled and agenda-driven. She wants to lecture the governor, not get answers to questions. You can see the exchange here:
The governor addressed how the state is handling efficiency in delivering vaccines to Floridians, or lack of efficiency. If one hospital is underperforming in the number of vaccines given, leaving unused vaccines, then another more efficient facility will receive their supply. The vaccines can’t be left to sit, it’s imperative that they be used and get people vaccinated.
Driving accountability in Florida is key to successfully deploying the vaccine. Our top priority is getting shots in arms so we can protect more Floridians. pic.twitter.com/KhA230mZA5
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 5, 2021
Reporters used to ask questions and use a follow-up question if they wanted to drill down or question the elected official’s answer. Now, in the age of every exchange on video, reporters are prone to perform for the camera. You’ll note in the video that the camera is on Flores, not DeSantis as she asks her question and interrupts him. The reporter became the story, not the governor’s execution of distributing the COVID vaccines.
Flores should have done her job before confronting the governor. She could have made some phone calls to facilities doing vaccinations and to public health departments in the counties she used as examples of ones she thought were having problems. The fact that there are lines, though, or so many phone calls that a registration hotline crashes shows that there is strong public demand. It isn’t a failure of the process. When a facility doesn’t use a system to schedule vaccinations, it is completely predictable that people will show up and stand in line for a vaccination. A first come first serve process guarantees that the vaccines get used up but to me, it seems that an appointment would be the way to go to be guaranteed a vaccine.
No state is doing as well as it should be doing in giving COVID vaccinations. The simplest way to do it is to bring the vaccines to where they are needed, like nursing homes and senior citizen facilities. Health care workers and first responders can be vaccinated on the job. But, that isn’t realistic for the general population. People are going to have to stand in lines and that isn’t going to be convenient or comfortable. The states had plenty of time to come up with distribution plans but not all of them did so, or they are having trouble working their plans. We can’t blame one governor of one state, though, for all the problems. It has to be a joint, cooperative effort.