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Fox Says It Didn't Know What DeSantis Was Doing

Network says it never asked governor for an exclusive
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2021 6:30 PM CDT
Fox: Bill Signing by DeSantis Was a Surprise
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leaves after his Fox News appearance Thursday.   (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

(Newser) – A backlash quickly followed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' appearance Thursday on Fox & Friends, in which he signed a voting law—some of it from Fox News. Reporters and cameras from other outlets weren't allowed into the event, with the governor's aides telling the crowd that his Fox & Friends visit was "an exclusive." That was news to Fox, the Miami Herald reports. Producers didn't know DeSantis was going to do anything other than talk, the network said later in the day, adding that the governor had been booked for "an interview and not as a live bill signing." In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Fox said it never asked that the appearance be an exclusive. DeSantis announced on Twitter that he'd be signing the bill just before he went on the show. There was no comment from his office about the network's statements.

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Asked about keeping every outlet but Fox out of the signing later in the morning, DeSantis said: "We were happy to give them the exclusive on that. That’s broadcast to millions of people." Journalists objected to being shut out, per CNBC. "Not a single reporter is being let in," one tweeted. "This in a 'sunshine' state that prides itself on open government." A bill signing usually is a public event, a Florida First Amendment lawyer said. Another said public officials can't keep news media out of a public event. "Regardless whether it violates the First Amendment, which it may, it's bad government," he said. Georgia's governor recently signed a law adding voting restrictions behind closed doors, which led to the arrest of a lawmaker who tried to witness it. (Read more Ron DeSantis stories.)

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