Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is letting the whole country know how thin his skin is by pushing to change defamation laws to make it easier to sue journalists who report on his administration. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is letting the whole country know how thin his skin is by pushing to change the defamation law to make it easier to sue journalists who report bad things about his administration. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins joins me to talk about what’s happening and many other issues. Okay. No surprise here. You know, he hates the media. The corporate media has not been fair to him in his mind. And you know what? As I watch it, they really aren’t. I mean, as I watch, I mean, even you and I are taking shots at him all the time, and people take shots at him because he’s in the business. Okay. You gotta have, you can’t have thin skin in this business. What’s your take on this story?

Farron Cousins: This is really interesting one, because he has no authority to even do this.

Mike Papantonio: No, no.

Farron Cousins: You know, this was actually put forward by our state representative Alex Andrade, who clearly does not understand how the federal law works. You can’t change defamation, slander, and libel laws at a state level when these things are already set nationally.

Mike Papantonio: Andrade is a goof. Okay. Andrade got mad at me for calling him, what’d I call him a punk, and said he had no life experience. What was going on was Florida Power and Light was raid, I mean, raiding everybody’s money. I mean, they were just taking money away from everybody in this state, four or five times the amount that they should be paying for electricity. So I went after Andrade. I said, why is it happening? Why aren’t you going to Tallahassee doing something about it? Called him a punk, said he was a child, a manchild or something like that. So maybe, maybe this is my fault, I don’t know. But this is dead on arrival. I mean.

Farron Cousins: It really, well, they’ll pass it.

Mike Papantonio: Oh, yeah.

Farron Cousins: Because the goal and we see this all the time, especially here in Florida, the goal is not to pass successful legislation. The goal is to get somebody to immediately sue about the legislation so they can work it up to the Supreme Court and undo the New York Times versus Sullivan case.

Mike Papantonio: That’s the goal. Right.

Farron Cousins: That’s the goal.

Mike Papantonio: That’s the goal.

Farron Cousins: And that’s why, look, I get so incredibly frustrated because you have these well-meaning groups out there on the left. And I love these groups, but I hate that as soon as legislation gets passed, they immediately file these lawsuits because that’s what these conservatives like Ron DeSantis want to happen. That’s how you end up with the Supreme Court undoing Roe versus Wade. You’ve gotta take your time and analyze it and have the right argument instead of the knee-jerk reaction that we’re gonna sue you.

Mike Papantonio: Right appellate court, lower level appellate court, right Supreme Court state and right US Supreme Court. This, but I mean, look, the idea is to be able to say that we’re gonna lower the standard to where if I say something bad about Andrade, he’s gonna have an easier time suing me. Now, Andrade says, oh no, this isn’t about public officials. This is to protect the average man on the street

Farron Cousins: Because they’re getting slandered all the time apparently.

Mike Papantonio: Oh yeah. You know, they’re, everybody’s slandering the average man on the street. No. The people that are slandering politicians is the politician deserves to be slandered. Okay. They chose to do this for a living. And when they do stupid stuff, people like you and I ought to be able to say, Andrade you did another stupid thing. I’m gonna do it anyway. And, you know, when you pass your legislation, I’m probably gonna be the one that tests it if anything happens there. So the point is this, I do, there’s something I do agree with here, though. In there is something about anonymous sources. Okay. Look, I went to University of Florida Journalism School, news editing was my major. And we always talked about anonymous sources. Anonymous sources are really, really dangerous. Anonymous sources, if you think about it, allowed Judith Miller with the New York Times to start a war with Iraq that killed millions of people. Okay. And it’s still a problem. Judith Miller lied. She lied about her source, she lied about the story, and the whole time that she was ginning up the story, it was based on anonymous sources. Do you remember that story?

Farron Cousins: Oh, absolutely.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. So anonymous sources to me, we need to take a look at it because we’re seeing it everywhere now. Anonymous source says this, hell, there’s gotta be some limitations there.

Farron Cousins: Well, I mean, to a degree, sure. But at the same time, you know, that would’ve prevented us from getting the Nixon story. I mean, Deep Throat.

Mike Papantonio: True. Good point.

Farron Cousins: Mark Felt at the point was an anonymous source.

Mike Papantonio: Good point.

Farron Cousins: So without that, we wouldn’t have it. But we also don’t want to get to the point where we’re forcing these reporters, these journalists to reveal their sources. It’s when it’s a real public corruption story. If you’re talking about keeping a source secret, because they said, hey, DeSantis eats pudding with his fingers, which is a story that did come out recently. I get that. Okay. Why are you protecting?

Mike Papantonio: Wait, wait, wait, wait. He does what?

Farron Cousins: Yeah. He allegedly eats pudding with his fingers.

Mike Papantonio: Maybe it’s a cultural thing, I don’t know.

Farron Cousins: So yeah, and it was an anonymous source that gave that information. So I get it. Like, that’s not an important anonymous source. You do have to have a line somewhere. But I think that’s what really him off, is the pudding story that started most of this.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. So here we have that, let me run for office. I wanna run for office. I wanna be Andrade. I want to be Mr. Big in Tallahassee, and I’m gonna be a what, a state representative, something to that effect. Okay. State representative in Tallahassee. Elect me, let me do horrendous things. Let me side with corporations to the detriment of consumers. Let me be reckless. Let me be stupid and let me be insufferable in the things I do. But with this, by God, if you sue me, I’m gonna have something to talk about. That’s kind of where this is. This is not for the every man on the street, but that’s the way they make it, that’s the way they make this look.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.