The Florida gubernatorial race has increasingly made national headlines in the weeks ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, but on Friday it was the New York Times’ own headline that should have been making the news.
The contest between Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee who could become the Sunshine State’s first African-American governor, and Republican Ron DeSantis, a former congressman, took a decidedly racist turn immediately following the primary in August. Reacting to the Democrat’s victory, DeSantis implored his supporters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum. That comment preceded a handful of other racist comments as well as racist ads and even robocalls funded by white supremacists. In fact, DeSantis has a long history of being racist.
Yet and still, despite all of the above and more that hasn’t been mentioned here, the Times ran a political analysis piece about DeSantis that was topped with the following headline: “Trump Favorite in Florida Struggles To Rise After Racial Stumbles.”
Those last two words, in particular, caught folks’ eyes — especially HuffPost reporter Marina Fang, who tweeted a screenshot of the story accompanied by a “thinking face” emoji, a brilliantly appropriate digital image typically reserved for things that make you go hmmmmmm.
Given DeSantis’ rhetoric during this campaign (and well before it), it struck folks as curious (to put it mildly) why the Times, a bastion of free speech, would shy away from calling a candidate who accepted money from a man who once called Barack Obama a “Muslim nigger” a racist. The ready support the president, who has ramped up his own racist rhetoric as of late, only strengthens the argument that DeSantis is racist.
It was unclear what the Times’ style guide dictates for identifying racism and racists. Who knows? Maybe it was just a classic case of a major news organization having a glaring lack of diversity when it comes to key decision makers. But one thing was for sure: Without a public editor in place and a drastic reduction of copy editors, social media may be the only way to keep the Times (and mainstream media) in check.
This story proves that notion, as thousands of social media users chimed in with their own collective “thinking face emoji” tweets wondering how the Times missed the mark on calling DeSantis the racist that he has repeatedly proven himself to be.