Did Florida and Ron DeSantis embark on a crusade to ban a poem read at Joe Biden’s inauguration from public schools? As it turns out, the incident in question had nothing to do with DeSantis, nothing to do with the state of Florida, and poet Amanda Gorman’s book never left the one school library in question.
But if you read the story in the national media — fueled by Gorman’s own misinformed Instagram post — you’d think that DeSantis spent the day dancing around a poetry pyre:
More outlets spread the false version…
CNN was pretty much the only major outlet that had an accurate headline and got the facts right.
And then you wonder why no one trusts the press?
They actively and consistently spread misinformation. pic.twitter.com/NmWrAIKQAW
— AG (@AGHamilton29) May 24, 2023
So what actually happened? One parent complained about allowing elementary students access Gorman’s book and three others in the school library. The school district reviewed the complaint and had the books moved to the middle-school section instead. As AGHamilton notes, CNN was alone in reporting the actual facts rather than just amplify Gorman’s accusation.
Of course, that made for a headline that almost qualifies as a satire of national news:
Amanda Gorman’s Biden inauguration poem was moved out of an elementary library at a Miami-Dade school after a parent complained
Even that’s not quite accurate, but at least it’s in range. The book never left the library at all, as their report points out:
“The Hill We Climb,” the poem written by Amanda Gorman for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, was moved out of the elementary section of one Miami-Dade County public school, the district confirmed Tuesday. It remains available to older children. …
In a statement to CNN Tuesday evening, Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Elmo Lugo said, “No literature (books or poem) has been banned or removed.”
“It was determined at the school that ‘The Hill We Climb’ is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center. The book remains available in the media center,” he said.
So this national story about Ron DeSantis’ Florida and book banning comes down to … one school district moving three books in a “media center” from one shelf to another.
No book got banned. The decision had nothing to do with Florida’s state government or any particular law. Ron DeSantis had nothing at all to do with the entire process. A local school district in Miami-Dade — hardly a bastion of conservatism, by the way — moved three books from one shelf to another … and the national media lost its collective mind, with the notable exception of CNN.
Other than that, the mainstream media really nailed this story, eh?
Did the school board choose wisely? Who knows, and with the exception of the parents in that school district, who cares about which book gets placed on which shelf in its media center? It’s not as if parents who want those books available for their first-graders couldn’t buy a copy for themselves, or check them out of the public library. Even if one’s inclined to criticize the shelving decisions, local schools can’t ban books — and state governments can’t either, no matter what the hyperventilating hysterics think.
The only reason for the Protection Racket Media’s zone-flooding on the story was that the initial report fit its preferred narrative. They seize on every opportunity to amplify any accusations of authoritarianism in Florida and DeSantis. Despite being “news organizations” and lecturing everyone on the dangers of “disinformation,” none of these outlets (save CNN) bothered to do rudimentary, basic fact checking and reporting on allegations of a “ban.” Instead, they all thundered to amplify a bull***t story in hopes of making their political enemies look bad.
All this shows is how desperate the PRM has become as DeSantis enters the 2024 race. Expect to hear and read a lot more of this same unchecked gossip-mongering nonsense from outlets like Politico, Daily Beast, New Republic, Axios, USA Today, and others as we approach the November 2024 election. And for that matter, as we approach the first GOP presidential debate. Speaking of USA Today, this may have been the most dishonest of all takes, as they knew the book hadn’t been banned — but led with that anyway:
Here is USA Today's headline and here is the subhead IN THE SAME STORY.
A media that consistently does this has to be destroyed and rebuilt. pic.twitter.com/lExLI5Uuvn
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) May 24, 2023
Addendum: Just to point out the painfully obvious — all libraries curate their content, especially school libraries when it comes to age-appropriateness. The fact that you can’t (or shouldn’t) find Lady Chatterly’s Lover in an elementary school library doesn’t mean that the district/state/feds have somehow banned D.H. Lawrence. There isn’t a library in the world that has all the books ever published available for access. Library curation is a process that certainly can be critiqued, but the idea that it amounts to a “book ban” in an age where books are so widely and easily accessible through online sales and electronic formats is absolutely ridiculous. It’s so obviously false that we could call such allegations disinformation.
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