Earlier this year, I wrote a profile of Ron DeSantis, a figure who seemed to point the way toward the party’s post-Trump future. That future, it seemed to me, could arrive much sooner than many people forecast at the time. “If you completely dismiss the possibility that DeSantis could pry the Republican base away from a president to whom it has formed a cultlike attachment,” I argued, “you may not be considering the potential effect of two more years of DeSantis being given the sort of coverage in the right-wing media that Pravda devoted to Joseph Stalin.”
That dynamic has been in effect at gale force since last night. The midterm election could not have set up a more favorable dynamic for the Florida governor. His state, which reported its vote early, delivered a huge victory for Republicans. And then the party proceeded to underperform almost everywhere else, leaving Florida as an outlier.
The Republican-aligned media, which has spent the past year trumpeting DeSantis as the party’s future, has devoted itself to this message almost exclusively since last night. Here is a typical example of the conservative media’s coverage of the elections:
Trump blasted across media spectrum over Republicans' midterms performance: 'Biggest loser tonight' https://t.co/jWOefvZetW
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 9, 2022
The sentiment that Trump lost and DeSantis won is reflected across the spectrum of conservative media, encompassing those who disdain Trump as a liability but support him anyway and those who embrace him enthusiastically. The anti-anti-Trump National Review has headlines like “Tonight’s Emerging Narrative: DeSantis vs. the Rest of the Nation” and “Casey DeSantis Is the Greatest Political Mind in Modern History.” But even a Trumpist organ like American Greatness is running headlines such as “DeSantis Is the Night’s Big Winner.” [Continue reading…]