State officials publish almost every day Schedule from Governor Ron DeSantis. They appear in the inboxes of email accounts across the state.
We’ve combed our way starting March 1, the day the governor declared COVID-19 a public health emergency.
After reviewing schedules for seven months, the first big highlight is the number of press conferences DeSantis has held – at least 140 across the state. Many of them were panel discussions with experts who supported his COVID-19 actions.
Political communications expert Joshua Scacco, an assistant professor in South Florida, said the news, despite the accessibility, is not ideal for journalists.
“They only allow a certain amount of questions and answers,” said Scacco. “There are several journalists who ask questions – talk about each other. They are a bit chaotic at times. They are not the proper format for really digging.”
According to Scacco, politicians are aware of the drawbacks and use messages like the governor’s to control the transmission of messages.
“You can use these press conference formats to telegraph a picture of ‘accessibility’ without the potential of accountability and depth,” Scacco said.
One-on-one interviews are a much better way to take on this responsibility. DeSantis has performed some (32) national operations by our count. But most of them were with a company, Fox News, and conservative hosts like Sean Hannity.
The local press received only 11 exclusive interviews with the governor. Most of these interviews focused on Hurricane Sally.
When it comes to meetings with agency executives, our count doesn’t include press conferences DeSantis had with officials. Instead, we just counted calls and face-to-face meetings. While the governor may have spoken to them at other times that were not on his schedule – with no records – we decided not to include them.
The agency official DeSantis has spoken to the most since March is emergency management director Jared Moskowitz, who shows up 88 times. Next up is surgeon general Scott Rivkees – he dials in or meets with DeSantis 69 times. Medicaid chief Mary Mayhew appeared 26 times on schedule. Department of Management Services Secretary John Satter, who has looked at Florida’s unemployment, spoke to the governor 21 times.
By comparison, Satter had almost as many meetings or calls as President Donald Trump. The Republican appears 19 times on the governor’s plan. That is more than State Secretary Laurel Lee, 14 times and more than twice as often as Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, seven times.
DeSantis has also met with a number of other officials. The list includes politicians, business leaders, and more. It also often clocks for hours on weekends.
His schedules make at least one thing very clear: the pandemic has kept him busy.
Here are some takeaways after looking at the governor’s schedules:
- He hosted at least 140 press conferences
- Speaking to national media 32 times, mostly on Fox News
- Trump appeared 19 times, more than the education commissioner and state secretary
- The Florida Emergency Director received the most attention, followed by the General Surgeon