To call this irresponsible is to give Joy Reid too much credit. Above an MSNBC chyron which promises “new details on Matt Gaetz sex-crimes investigation,” which itself is still speculative, Reid and Glenn Kirschner instead hurl an accusation against a figure whose name hasn’t even come up in news reports as speculation.
In other words, this is an old-fashioned smear job in its entirety:
Without any evidence, MSNBC's Joy Reid and Glenn Kirschner insinuate that Ron DeSantis will be implicated in the sex trafficking ring with Congressman Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg involving drugs and hookers.
Kirschner: "[T]hings are creeping closer and closer to him. " pic.twitter.com/kmJbrkhPeS
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 15, 2021
“So, the question for Gaetz, because obviously Greenberg has to give somebody bigger than him, that would be Gaetz,” Reid said. “Here is at least, per the reporting, the people who were on that Bahamas trip. Notice if you see somebody’s name that rings a couple of times.
“[You] had at least five women, per Politico, you had Gaetz; you had a guy named Jason Pirozzolo, the hand surgeon and GOP fundraiser to Ron DeSantis, who apparently Gaetz wanted to turn into the attorney general of Florida,” she continued. “There’s Halsey Beshears, a former state legislator and former appointed official in the DeSantis administration.
“If you’re Ron DeSantis, does this feel like it’s creeping closer to you?” Reid asked guest Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor. “Because these are your friends, these are your allies.”
“Yeah, just as Greenberg’s lawyer said about Matt Gaetz when he left the courthouse the other day, he said, ‘You know what, if I were Matt Gaetz, I don’t think I’d be all that comfortable right about now,’” Kirschner claimed. “You have to believe that DeSantis, I mean, these are his boys, these are his guys, right? We’ve seen the pictures. We’ve heard the stories. You have to believe that Ron DeSantis, if he has done anything wrong, feels like things are creeping closer and closer to him.”
The only connection to DeSantis and anyone in this story is Pirozzolo, and that’s only as one of presumably many fundraisers for DeSantis. Reid and Kirschner leave out that DeSantis declined to give Pirozzolo the position of Florida’s surgeon general, so it’s not as though they were particularly close. In fact, the Washington Post story today on Gaetz and Greenberg only mentions DeSantis in passing to note that DeSantis rejected that suggestion from Gaetz:
One source of investigators’ interest, people familiar with the matter said, is a trip Gaetz allegedly took to the Bahamas in recent years with women and Jason Pirozzolo, a politically connected Orlando-area hand surgeon and private pilot who knew Gaetz and socialized with Greenberg, according to multiple people involved in Florida politics.
Pirozzolo served as a fundraiser during the gubernatorial campaign for Ron DeSantis (R), and after DeSantis was elected, Gaetz pushed unsuccessfully for Pirozzolo to be appointed as the state’s surgeon general. A lawyer for Pirozzolo did not return messages seeking comment, and attempts to speak with him at his home and office have been unsuccessful.
That’s actually the only mention of Pirozzolo in the WaPo piece, too. There hasn’t yet been any information that Pirozzolo is involved in any of Greenberg’s crimes, let alone DeSantis.
Of course, that doesn’t matter to Reid and MSNBC. They aren’t performing a news function here; they’re performing a campaign function for Democrats worried about 2024 and DeSantis’ prospects. They’re not the only media outlet to air an unfounded smear about DeSantis in the last couple of weeks, either. National media outlets have painted a target on the Florida governor’s back, and if mud is all they have to throw to hit it, then they’re willing to dig deep into their own muck to supply it.
That’s another reason to be skeptical about the media dogpile on Gaetz, too. He might well be involved in Greenberg’s crimes, but in this media environment, you’d have to be a fool to buy it entirely based off anonymous sources floated from mainstream-media outlets.