Most have grabbed on to the pithy, yet humorous, meme of Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis being dubbed “Ron DeSaster” after his Twitter Spaces announcement crashed for the first half hour. Amidst the confusion and frustration, DeSantis presented a very scripted opening speech that he followed with a very favorable Q&A, coming off as a malfunctioning anti-woke automata; many were frustrated that the space didn’t materialize as the candid town hall they’d been billed. Looking at the event through this lens, one can’t blame the critics who’ve already labeled this event as one of the worst campaign rollouts in presidential history.
READ MORE: DeSantis Dives Into the Muck
However, to ignore all of the fanfare surrounding the new media partnerships would obfuscate the fact that this announcement was the cherry on top of a conservative media coup. Earlier this month, Tucker Carlson announced that he’d be broadcasting his new show on Twitter in the near future, ensuring that the platform will give him “the freedom to tell the fullest truth that [I] can,” insinuating that his former employer failed to guarantee him that privilege in the wake of the Dominion lawsuit. The day before DeSantis’ announcement, the Daily Wire announced that it’d be streaming all of its shows on Twitter, the “Largest Free Speech Platform In The World.” Mind you, Ben Shapiro had already endorsed DeSantis as the “sensible, substantive” choice in the Republican field. Finally, Elon Musk’s presence alongside DeSantis during his Twitter Spaces announcement served as a tacit endorsement of the candidate; Musk had already said that he’d support a DeSantis-like Republican for the 2024 election well before the event had even been scheduled. While most have counted the night as an historically bad announcement for the Florida governor, in reality, the night served as the fulfillment of Musk’s plan to amass a citizen-journalist empire around an anti-establishment candidate dedicated to resurrecting the polis and democratizing the public sphere.
DeSantis blamed much of the corporate mass media for the ills of the country, citing his record as a staunch constitutionalist running against an egotistical despot who stripped Americans of their individual liberties during the pandemic; interestingly enough, DeSantis framed this claim in such a way that the jab could have been intended for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. He touted the Florida blueprint heavily during his Q&A in an effort to galvanize libertarian votes around a “real” conservative who never balked in the face of the culture war. Clearly, DeSantis recognized that MAGA Republicans, all former tea partiers, could be swayed into backing a don’t-tread-on-me Republican with the support of the classical liberal intellectuals recently put on the Musk payroll. Granted, that seems like a Herculean task considering the good faith Trump has cultivated with his followers, yet Musk has indeed put DeSantis is a strong position to do so with this new alliance of fringe castaways and undesirables.
Though many are certain that the technical difficulties made the DeSantis campaign dead on arrival, the Florida governor still yielded 5 million views on Twitter Spaces, and his campaign received $1 million in the first hour after rollout. Interestingly, DeSantis’ move has also put Trump in a very awkward position, forcing him to consider flocking back to Twitter, the new conservative hotbed, and subsequently abandoning his pet project, Truth Social, in the process. By the time he brings himself to do so, Twitter might no longer be the MAGA echo chamber that won him the Oval Office back in 2016.
Daniel Caplin is a boarding school instructor from Rhode Island who teaches courses in United States history and the humanities. Daniel’s focus is intellectual history and the Western tradition. He is a doting husband, and a father of two.