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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Sunshine takes a break

May 13, 2021 at 3:04 a.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a wave of election reforms into law last week. And that has some folks upset, claiming it's voter suppression. Others are weary for an entirely different reason.

The signing of legislation, particularly controversial bills, should be an open event. Members of the public and the media should be present to document the governor's John Hancock. But Governor DeSantis barred the gates for all but one cable news network. Guess which one.

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a wide-ranging list of new voting restrictions into law Thursday, staging a made-for-TV ceremony touting his credentials on a top priority for the Republican Party's conservative base," the Associated Press reports. "At a live bill-signing event aired exclusively on Fox News, DeSantis said the law would prevent fraud and restore confidence in Florida's elections--although the state has found no evidence of widespread fraud."

Fox News is headquartered in New York. So why give that channel the exclusive right to attend what would otherwise be a fairly routine signing?

The inner cynic (a staple of most journalism) says it's likely because this man has presidential aspirations and wants to look good on national television for his supposed base. Governor DeSantis might have wanted all GOP voters to remember him in 2024 and say, "Oh yeah! We saw him sign that bill on TV."

But his decision to exclude Florida news outlets, whose readers and viewers are actually impacted by this new legislation, is problematic.

Government serves the people best when it's open and transparent. What Ron DeSantis did last week showed he had little interest in open records requirements.

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