Topline

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) used conspiracy theories to explain YouTube’s recent removal of a video where he questioned if children need to wear face masks to prevent Covid spread—the latest instance of DeSantis flouting Covid health guidelines and criticizing those who object.

Key Facts

At a news conference Monday, DeSantis claimed there was an “Orwellian … big tech, corporate media collusion”—particularly from “New York-based corporate media”—to remove the video of his March 18 roundtable discussion.

YouTube last week took down the video of DeSantis’ roundtable discussion, which featured a panel of anti-lockdown, anti-mask health professionals—including former White House advisor Dr. Scott Atlas.

During the discussion, DeSantis posed a question about whether children need to wear masks (which the CDC recommends for those over the age of 2), leading to the health professionals saying it’s unnecessary and could actually hurt children’s development.

YouTube specifically pointed to the exchange over masks as the reason for the video’s removal, and YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez told Forbes the company has “clear policies around COVID-19 medical misinformation.”

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes to explain the connection he claims between New York media corporations and YouTube’s decision.

Crucial Quote

“Some of our biggest media conglomerates, who claim to be avatars of the first amendment and free exchange of ideas—they’ve really become cheerleaders for censorship,” DeSantis said. 

Key Background

DeSantis’ criticism and seeming disdain for public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic has repeatedly caused controversy for the outspoken governor. He has continually questioned whether lockdowns are effective, while the legitimacy of the state’s Covid data reporting has been brought into question. DeSantis has been blasted for moves like hiring a conspiracy theory-espousing, Ohio sports blogger as a state Covid data analyst, while firing former state Covid data scientist Rebekah Jones, whose home was raided by police in December. Mayors of several large south Florida cities also claimed the governor ignored them as they pleaded for mask mandates and other health guidelines. Florida lifted essentially all Covid business restrictions in September—months before any other large state. DeSantis has more recently come under fire for allegedly giving special access to early doses of Covid vaccine to his supporters, and signing an order banning Covid vaccine passports.

Tangent

DeSantis quickly shut down a question asked about U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), saying, “I don’t have anything to say.”

Further Reading

YouTube pulls video of DeSantis panel discussion urging no masks for children (The Washington Post)

‘Unqualified Conspiracy Theorist’: Florida Democrats Urge DeSantis Not To Hire Sports Blogger As State Data Analyst (Forbes)

Fiery DeSantis Claims Gun-Drawn Police Invasion Of Former State Covid Scientist’s Home Was Done ‘With Honor’ (Forbes)

Florida Mayors Plead For Mask Mandate, But DeSantis Says No New Restrictions Coming (Forbes)

Ron DeSantis Threatens To Pull Vaccines From Florida Counties That Criticize Distribution (Forbes)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports Amid GOP Pushback (Forbes)

‘I’m Not Going Anywhere’: Gaetz Vows To Keep Fighting Despite DOJ Investigation (Forbes)

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