The Fraudulent Disney–DeSantis Narrative - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Fraudulent Disney–DeSantis Narrative
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, April 17 (image courtesy Gov. Ron DeSantis)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis being savaged on all sides due to his fight with Disney — even within the Republican Party, even among his presumable compatriots within that group, and mostly out of rank opportunism.

Not long ago, there was a very good piece by Bradley Devlin at American Conservative that discussed the ins and outs of this fight in which DeSantis is enmeshed with Disney. It’s well worth a read if you really want to understand the difference between the populist conservatism of the bulk of today’s Republican Party — at least, among the voters — and the corporatist Bush Republicans who make up a shrinking bulk of the party’s political class.

DeSantis is of the former group. The most prominent of his criticizers is, of course, Donald Trump, though the former president’s daily bashings of “Ron DeSanctimonious,” particularly where Disney is concerned, have become so unhinged and unserious that they’ve taken on almost a campy quality. A few days ago, Trump even alleged that Andrew Cuomo, the sex-pest and former tyrant governor of New York who killed thousands of senior citizens in nursing homes by seeding them with COVID patients while convention centers and hospital ships went empty, did a better job with the virus than DeSantis.

And when Disney, amid the back-and-forth machinations over the governance of the Reedy Creek Improvement District around the Disney World property it formerly was able to govern as a corporate fiefdom, announced it was pulling back a planned expansion in Florida, the narrative of DeSantis trashing the Sunshine State’s economic development over politics got kicked into high gear.

Trump certainly didn’t lay up in pushing that one:

Other Republican candidates in the 2024 primary field have similarly pounced on this.

What’s really going on?

Well, there’s the legacy corporate media narrative, and CNN’s writeup of the latest development is as good an example as any:

“DeSantisland” was likely not the happiest place on Earth on Thursday.

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gears up for an expected jump into the 2024 presidential race next week, his powerful adversary, Disney, trampled his pre-launch buzz by scratching a $1 billion plan for an office campus that could have brought 2,000 jobs to the state.

The move was the latest twist in a bitter feud between DeSantis and one of the most important corporations operating in the Sunshine State, rooted in a political collision over the Republican governor’s hardline conservative ideology that will become his pitch to GOP primary voters. And it raises the question of whether Floridians are paying a big price for his political ambitions.

Disney’s power play showed that CEO Bob Iger wasn’t bluffing when he asked whether Florida wanted the firm to “invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes” last week. The timing of the Thursday announcement seemed calculated to damage the governor ahead of the most important week of his political career to date, when he is expected to soft launch his White House bid and make the all-important sell to fundraising bundlers. Disney did not specifically blame DeSantis for the move, partly citing “changing business conditions.” But the message was clear.

“When you are involved in a situation like this, it doesn’t happen very often that events like this are random or coincidental,” said Mark Johnston, a professor of marketing and ethics at the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

One of the problems with Trump’s constant swings at DeSantis is that he reinforces the Democrat narratives on issues like this.

And this is a perfect example of why that’s a mistake.

Everything you’ve heard about this new Disney campus that is now not to be is, as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf famously said, “bovine scatology.”

First of all, the people staffing this Disney campus were not going to be Floridians. They were going to be California transplants who Disney was going to move to the Sunshine State.

Who in a red state really wants 2,000 Californians working for one of the wokest companies on the planet to invade their community? To see what that looks like on a macro level, consider Austin or Denver. It’s not fantastic.

DeSantis’ campaign spokeswoman Christina Pushaw made that clear:

Florida is sitting on a 2.6 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation, and that’s with an abject flood of people coming into the state.

Meaning that Florida doesn’t need a Disney expansion. Especially if it was going to cost the taxpayers more in incentives to Disney than the company was going to spend on salaries to staff that campus.

Which brings the populist-conservatism-vs-corporatism debate into pretty stark relief, no?

Oh, but the construction jobs building the new property!

Those of our readers living in Florida can attest to what it’s like finding available construction crews to do virtually anything in that state right now. Whatever construction jobs beyond the bottom level would be created by Disney at this point would almost assuredly come from out of state, at least on net. There is very full employment in the Florida construction industry right now.

There is zero reason why Florida should be apologizing to Disney.

Let’s not forget that Disney is a failing corporation whose stock is in freefall and that it’s really only a matter of time before the long-awaited hostile takeover comes:

Shapiro isn’t lying. Here’s a graph, taken from

That’s from Jan. 23 of this year to Monday.

Does this look like a company that was seriously going to spend $1 billion on a new campus for its employees?

Everything about this is ridiculous. You have a state that is booming and frankly would be better off with less of an influx of out-of-state corporate types (when the economy of a place is as good as Florida’s, what you really want is homegrown businesses mushrooming into the next generation of corporate shooting stars that dominate their industries, not free agents fleeing less-successful places). And you have a California corporation that is in the process of destroying its brand in front of its core audiences and paying the price at the box office and in the subscription sales of its cable TV and streaming products.

And somehow Ron DeSantis is the guy in the wrong because Disney isn’t expanding?

The point of incentivizing corporate site selection is to create jobs for your people (Florida has more jobs than it has people, even with a massive influx, so that’s not necessary) and to attract a corporate skills base that will translate into further growth, meaning that if you bring industry players to your jurisdiction, they’ll coalesce into a dynamic engine within that sector, like the tech sector did in Austin.

Florida already has all of that. The idea that somehow the state’s future is yoked to Disney’s interest in expanding its theme park there is one that should have faded away with Bush Republicanism.

But, of course, there is always The Narrative.

And just to add to the bovine scatology, on Monday another entity of 20th-century merit clearly in decline today similarly attacked DeSantis:

Today, the NAACP Board of Directors issued a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida. The travel advisory comes in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.

The formal travel notice states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

“Let me be clear – failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” said NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson. “Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”

This because Florida has rejected critical race theory as a base for teaching black history in public schools.

The chairman of the NAACP’s board is Leon Russell, and he lives in…


What does this all mean? Well, it means that the lies are absolutely ubiquitous in American media — and the people most guilty in spreading them are generally the ones most obsessed with rooting out “disinformation.” CNN and the other mainstream media types spreading the BS that Florida’s economy took a major blow from Disney, or that the NAACP’s “sanctioning” the state will negatively affect its tourist trade, are beclowning themselves.

But, of course, it looks truer because Trump, whose PAC has spent more money attacking DeSantis to date than it spent for the entire 2022 midterm cycle helping Republican candidates, is using it.

Trump’s just doing what he does. You can find merit in it, or not.

But nobody ought to credit this garbage about Disney “winning” against DeSantis. He might not be the GOP’s 2024 nominee; in fact, his pre-launch campaign for the presidency has been pretty underwhelming. But he’s doing a whole lot better than Bob Iger, and his state is in a lot better shape than Disney.

As for the NAACP? It’s about as obsolete as Song of the South these days, and it proved as much on Monday.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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