By Christine Sexton, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday railed against YouTube and Google for removing a video of a COVID-19 discussion he had with scientists who oppose government lockdowns, school closures and mask wearing, calling it “censorship.”
The ramped-up criticism by the Republican governor came as lawmakers try to work out details of a bill that takes aim at tech companies, an issue that DeSantis championed as one of his top priorities for this year’s legislative session.
“Science, in particular, needs to have dissenting views aired, and that’s how a lot of these breakthroughs end up happening. It’s disappointing to see it,” DeSantis said of YouTube’s decision to remove the video, a move first noticed by a libertarian think tank and then reported by the online publication The Wrap. “We are not going to be silenced. We are going to make sure folks get to hear from some of the great experts in the country and also be able to actually hear what the data has revealed over the past year.”
DeSantis’ broadside came at a Tallahassee press event where he was joined by Scott Altas, who served as a White House coronavirus adviser to former President Donald Trump; Stanford University professor Jay Bhattacharya; and Harvard Medical School Professor Martin Kulldorff.
Monday’s event was the third COVID-19 roundtable the governor has held with the trio of scientists over the past year.
YouTube removed a video of a March roundtable discussion that had been posted by television station WTSP and which also featured Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University.
During that discussion, Kulldorff said children did not need to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. YouTube officials told media outlets the video was removed because of “misinformation”
DeSantis, who has become a harsh critic of medical advice coming from federal authorities, said YouTube and its parent company, Google, removed the video because they are “enforcers of a narrative” for the “ruling elite.”
“There are people out there who are more pro-lockdown but still disagree with the censorship,” the governor said. “They understand that they may disagree with the Bhattacharyas and the Guptas, but maybe someday big tech comes after their perspective, that they want to be shared. So, it’s not a road that we want to go.”
While YouTube removed the video posted by one television station, other condensed versions of the roundtable remained on the platform. The full video is also available on The Florida Channel.
As he ramps up his 2022 re-election bid, DeSantis has routinely been slashing at tech companies and the “corporate media.” Last week, he assailed the CBS news show “60 Minutes” over a story about Florida’s vaccine rollout. The moves have brought DeSantis increased attention on conservative media outlets and have helped make him a leading contender to run for president in 2024 if Trump does not try again.
DeSantis on Monday said the recent actions by YouTube underscore why the Legislature needs to take action against so-called “big tech.”
Bills under consideration by the Legislature include barring social-media companies from removing political candidates from the companies’ platforms, but the governor said his administration is working to make the bills stronger.
“We may have some ability to ask for some more teeth in the bill,” he said, adding that while the bills as written might not apply to YouTube’s removal of his COVID-19 roundtable, it is an example of unequal treatment.
Meanwhile, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a statement Monday saying that the governor and his priorities are “shockingly out of touch” with the public and that his lack of leadership has exacerbated the pandemic.
Fried, a likely Democratic challenger to DeSantis next year, called his rhetoric “unhinged” and “dangerous” and said he has elevated “fringe conspiracy theories.”
POC you are spot on. Masking our children is nothing less than child abuse. If you were told a parent was keeping a child from human contact and putting a cloth over their mouth for 8 hours a day, you would most certainly report them for child abuse. Are the Leon County Commissioners fine with the dehumanizing of our children? What long term effects are you causing? And for what? A virus that has proven to be less deadly to them than the flu!! I’ve written to Gov. DeSantis to assist in this fight, I hope you all do as well. We need to stand as one against tyranny.
Nikki Fried is a Communist.
While I did and will vote again for Gov. DeSantis and appreciate his efforts lately on the Plandemic I agree with comments that he is not going far enough. The March 18th roundtable was brilliant and sorely needed. The real experts on the roundtable from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford clearly contradicted the insane mandates from the mass murderer President Fauci and the lunatics at the CDC. This is why they had to be silenced. Watch the almost two-hour roundtable on the Florida Channel where it is available. The current Big Tech bill in the legislature is practically useless as it stands now and needs more teeth. Hopefully it will be amended sooner than later for that purpose.
What is also sorely needed is an even stronger hand from Gov. DeSantis. The Capital District Kommissars have lost their collective minds with their continuation of the insane mask mandate. I know personally of far too many churches/parishes in the capital district who have an inability to think rationally for themselves and still strictly adhere to the insane mask mandate as well as anti-social distancing and capacity limits. We also know that the Capital District LCS Board strictly adheres to muzzling our kids at school. I have re-opening plans from several other Florida County School Boards who make the Chicom Face Diaper of Submission optional but it’s not optional in the Capital District. Furthermore, several insane, supposedly private schools in the capital district, follow the School Board muzzling mandate. Muzzling our kids is child abuse, full stop.
We are literally at war, whether you want to admit it or not. Right now, it is a Cold Civil War. Gov. DeSantis needs to put this state on a war footing and act as a general leading the charge. It is not the time to pick and choose what items you want to allow local control over. Too often spineless Republicans selectively legislate what legal or policy items they allow local governments control over. Enough!
Gov. DeSantis needs to issue a complete ban on all local government/school board mask, anti-social distancing and capacity limit restrictions throughout the state. This also needs to be applied to ANY state funded public institutions throughout the state including State funded universities and colleges. The Governor’s own agencies are enforcing mask mandates whenever you visit them. If you want to wear a Chicom face diaper of submission, go for it, leave the rest of us sane folk alone. It is not enough to ban any fines associated with these mandates. Too many businesses, churches and school boards are sheeple and incapable of critical thinking.
Be a general, DeSantis! Lead the charge and stop hiding behind “local control.”
The governor is right.
Pat needs to change her diaper.
Common sense the new superpower.
Dems are just communists with a fancy name.
…just more B.S. from Desantis. He could end the Mask Mandate right now if he wanted. I wish his Doctor would prescribe a set of testicles for him. Being Governor is more what Florida can do for him and less about what he can do for us.
Google, You Tube, FB,…ect…dont respond well to threats of possable legislation that may reign in their jack boots on the public’s neck which throttles free speech.
No Sir. Threats are laughed at by leftist big tech.
Florida has to actually pass such legislation, the Governor has to actually sign it into law, and finally Florida will need to take them into court and actually prevail in a monumental settlement that makes Florida’s Tobacco settlement look like chump change in order to get big tech’s attention.
I appreciate the saber rattling and macho talk but we will need to follow through with the red hot poker up big tech’s butt to get their attention.
Carry on and God speed!!@
Nikki Fried thinks that the governor and his priorities are “shockingly out of touch”? REALLY? Then WHY is it that everyone I have talked to think he’s doing a great job, especially with Covid?
~ Meanwhile, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a statement Monday saying that the governor and his priorities are “shockingly out of touch” with the public and that his lack of leadership has exacerbated the pandemic.
~ Fried, a likely Democratic challenger to DeSantis next year, called his rhetoric “unhinged” and “dangerous” and said he has elevated “fringe conspiracy theories.”
Nikki Weed and Alinsky Projection 101… thus endith the lesson… carry on