Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis under fire after declaring no book bans in the sunshine state. PolitiFact labels his claim as false. But is this fact-check even based on the right argument? Let’s take a closer look and find out whether DeSantis was attacking a straw man or being falsely accused.
So, what did DeSantis really say? He claimed that there isn’t “a single book banned in the state of Florida. You can go buy or you can use whatever book you want.” This statement was clearly referring to a literal ban on books rather than the availability of specific books in school libraries. Authors Matthew Crowley and Amy Sherman, in their article for PolitiFact, misrepresent his argument, claiming that DeSantis’s assertion goes too far because some Florida districts have either removed or restricted access to certain books.
The authors go on to cite Emily J.M. Knox, an information sciences professor, who deems the term “banning” as subjective. While Knox does state that “‘banning’ is in the eye of the beholder,” she simultaneously undermines her own point by arguing that banning and censorship inevitably involve controlling access to information. Taken to its logical end, her argument would label every governor, regardless of their political affiliation, a book-banner, which is an incredibly problematic assertion.
It’s important here to acknowledge that not only has DeSantis been fact-checked by PolitiFact 44 times, with 59% of those resulting in a “false” rating, but that this situation is a perfect example of PolitiFact picking and choosing their side. They seem to forget the fact that DeSantis was speaking narrowly about literal book bans, instead of focusing their attack on the statement he made about the availability and restriction of books in schools. Clearly, this was a straw man argument, and they just couldn’t help themselves.
In conclusion, PolitiFact’s attack on Gov. Ron DeSantis has exposed not just their flawed argument but also their glaring bias. As long as media outlets like this one continue to twist the words of politicians and misrepresent their statements, the public will have no choice but to question the accuracy and trustworthiness of such so-called “fact-checkers.”