The Florida Standard has gone belly up. The death of a low-circulation right-wing rag would normally be fairly unremarkable, except that this particular publication is a favorite propaganda outfit of Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis.
According to a report from The Floridian, the Standard, which has for months now operated on extremely friendly, very accessible terms with the DeSantis campaign, has fired all of its staff and will cease operating before the new year. Sources who spoke to The Floridian stated that Desantis had been instrumental in propping up the flailing outlet and that the governor’s office and campaign had worked closely with the website’s management — even encouraging donors, lobbyists, and communications firms to contribute financially to publication.
Aside from Fox News, The Standard was one of the only outlets to which DeSantis regularly granted interviews. A Politico review of the site’s content, conducted for an interview with The Standard’s Editor in Chief Will Witt, found that many of its articles read like press releases from the campaign’s PR office. It’s no surprise given that according to The Floridian’s investigation, DeSantis’ Rapid Response Director Christina Pushaw has spoken to multiple people about her contacts at The Standard. The site has operated as the central hub in a web of friendly outlets to which DeSantis’ team can feed scoops in exchange for positive press.
The death of The Standard comes at a time when the DeSantis campaign seems to be falling apart at the seams. On Friday, DeSantis’ primary super PAC “Never Back Down,” fired three members of its senior management, including interim CEO Kristin Davison (who had only been in the job for nine days), Communications Director Erin Perrine, and Director of Operations Matthew Palmisano. The news came just a few weeks after reports emerged that two members of the PAC’s board had almost come to blows during a strategy meeting about how the campaign should handle the rise of fellow Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.
For months now, concerns had been brewing within the Desantis camp that Never Back Down was running an ineffective strategy on behalf of their candidate, but the bigger, more glaring problem is DeSantis himself.
On Thursday DeSantis was blown out of his suspiciously high heels by California Governor Gavin Newsom during a televised debate on Fox News. Much like his onstage appearances during the Republican primary debates, DeSantis seemed deeply uncomfortable in his own skin, and whatever bombshell he planned to drop against Newsom in the much-hyped “Red State vs. Blue State” showdown was wiped away when the California governor pointed out that DeSantis was down 41 points against Trump in his own home state.
And it isn’t just Florida — DeSantis’ polls are floundering across the nation. As various single-digit candidates drop out of the Republican primaries, Donald Trump seems to only expand his lead against the field, and the odds that DeSantis manages to engineer a 180 for his candidacy are growing slimmer by the day.