CNN to Fried: How can you not credit DeSantis for COVID response and economic boom?

Sometimes, you just have to take the L. Perhaps Nikki Fried didn’t expect CNN’s Poppy Harlow to insist on it. In an interview yesterday with the presumed Democratic frontrunner to take on Ron DeSantis, Fried refused to credit the governor for getting anything right about the COVID-19 pandemic response in Florida.

When Fried began to criticize DeSantis on nursing home policy, however, New York-based Harlow snapped back that DeSantis was “one of the quickest governors to lock down the nursing homes — the opposite of what happened here in New York.” Fried never really recovered from that pushback (via Twitchy):

HARLOW: OK. A lot of your (INAUDIBLE) then, but let’s move on to you, let’s focus on you because you’re the one running. You’ve been very critical of Governor DeSantis’ handling of the COVID pandemic. Listen to what he said earlier this spring. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you look at what’s happening in South Florida right now, I mean, this place is booming. It would not be booming if it was shut down. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The data backs it up. I mean, Florida has a 4.8 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average, the per capita death rate from COVID-19 is 27th, nowhere near the highest. Do you think he deserves credit for that?

FRIED: No, I don’t think he deserves credit.

HARLOW: Why?

FRIED: He had a hands-off approach to COVID. First of all, there was a lack of transparency during the entire pandemic. He had no information that was coming out of our nursing homes, no information that was coming out of our prisons.

HARLOW: He was one of the quickest governors to move to lock down the nursing homes, the opposite of what happened here in New York.

FRIED: Well, the problem was that he also wasn’t giving information. And so it made orders very confusing to the people of our state. Local governments are the ones that stepped up and took leadership here. And then he dismantled their power along the way.

So the people that really should take credit for what is happening in our state are our local governments, our own local businesses that also stepped up, our food stores that made sure that there was social distancing inside of them, the restaurants that made sure that they had Q.R. codes. So it was private businesses and our local governments that stepped up.

Ron, the entire time, not only was not empathetic towards the people of our state but was very confusing on the way he was leading our state.

HARLOW: Okay, I hear your points on the messaging. I’m just asking you, Commissioner, since you’re running to be governor of Florida, about the hard data while Ron DeSantis was, and remains governor, and you can’t argue that the unemployment rate in Florida right now is half what it is in New York and California, and it is 27th on the list when you look at COVID deaths.

My question is, all your criticism of him saying he didn’t shut down soon enough, calling for mask mandates statewide, looking at the data, did he have it right and did you have it wrong?

FRIED: No, and I go back to what the local governments did. The governor didn’t do a mask mandate but the local governments did.

Actually … yes, that’s precisely the problem Fried now has. The results in Florida have vindicated DeSantis’ leadership and diminished those who sniped from the sidelines. That’s especially obvious when comparing DeSantis to the governor those critics hailed as the paragon of leadership early in the pandemic, Andrew Cuomo. Fried can whine about “empathy” all she wants, but business stayed open in Florida, people kept their jobs, and cases and deaths were no more significant than the national mean despite — or because of — DeSantis’ “laissez-faire” approach. That undercuts Fried’s clear desire for a more interventionist style of governance, and she knows it.

Harlow couldn’t resist one last shot across Fried’s bow, it seems:

… and buried herself with it. Sometimes, you just gotta take the L and move on.

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