With Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's 2024 presidential campaign continuing to hemorrhage support and staffers, not to mention struggling in all the state and federal public opinion polls, The Floridian has learned that the secretive pro-DeSantis blog, The Florida Standard, has fired all of its employees and will shutter its doors just in time for Christmas, and before Florida’s presidential primary election.
According to sources with ties to Gov. DeSantis’s Executive Office and with knowledge about the workings of the media outlet—which in the past has been spoon-fed exclusives for publication and was granted two rare interviews with Gov. DeSantis—The Standard will be closing down operations on or around December 13.
We expected this was going to happen, just not before Floridians were given a chance to vote, let alone Iowans.
The sources, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, said that the Governor’s office propped up the website and was giving it direction through several members of DeSantis’s presidential campaign and official office.
Contrary to what DeSantis's political world spins, there are leaks within the official office and the campaign.
DeSantis’s controversial Rapid Response staffer Christina Pushaw, who recently poked fun at former President Donald Trump at the expense of a Holocaust survivor, is alleged to have confirmed her involvement with the outlet to one of her close friends.
The friend also confirmed that Pushaw had been reprimanded by DeSantis himself over some ill-advised tweets she had posted.
According to a POLITICO profile story on the outlet’s CEO Will Witt, Witt said that “a dream” of his was to see his Florida-centric website be “emulated” around the country and “build this media empire.”
It appears that Witt’s dream has become a nightmare.
The outlet was rumored to have been funded by pro-DeSantis donors. The Floridian cannot confirm that any particular donor cut checks to fund the everyday operations of the outlet, but we can confirm that prominent Tallahassee-based lobbyists and public relations firms have said that the governor’s office had asked them to directly fund, and or drive their clients to advertise on the site.
Several of these lobbyists have donated to both DeSantis's 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign and his presidential campaign.
In addition, DeSantis’s former chief of staff and current presidential campaign manager James Uthmeier, sat with The Floridian at the second Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, California, and confirmed the governor’s office's involvement with the media outlet.
When confronted about the worst-kept secret between the outlet and the Governor’s office, Uthmeier said, “Yeah, we made an effort to help them get going.”
According to The Messenger’s Marc Caputo, who was in Iowa covering DeSantis’s completion of the “Full Grassley”, “DeSantis’s campaign in Iowa has also suffered from self-inflicted wounds. In the summer, the campaign had repeated shakeups and financial problems. Soon thereafter, tensions arose between the campaign and the Never Back Down super PAC backing DeSantis.”
The apparent collapse of The Florida Standard a month before the 2024 Iowa Caucuses and two months before Floridians cast their votes, does not leave supporters feeling warm and fuzzy about DeSantis's chances of defeating former President Donald Trump to win the Republican presidential nomination.
The latest Realclearpolitics.com average of polls show that President Trump leads DeSantis by 47.3 percentage points.