Washington Post editorial board: DeSantis attacking free speech for targeting Tampa Bay Rays

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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ jab at The Tampa Bay Rays, and other companies such as Disney, is a threat against “free expression” and “free enterprise,” and reaffirms his disregard for free speech, The Washington Post editorial board argued this week.

DeSantis has publicly stated that he does not support the use of taxpayer funds to support professional sports stadiums, but the board is slamming him for allegedly tying his veto of $35 million in funding for a new training and youth sports facility to the Ray’s public comments decrying gun violence and support for new gun legislation. 

“This cannot become normal. We cannot become numb. We cannot look the other way. We all know if nothing changes, nothing changes,” the team tweeted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. The team also pledged $50,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety, which supports gun control. 

“It’s inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation,” DeSantis said of the veto.

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FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami. 

FILE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami’s Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

The board admitted it agreed with DeSantis’ decision not to support sports teams with taxpayer money, but claim that the governor’s decisions are indicative of punishment against specific companies that express views to which he disagrees. The board noted that he did nothing when Disney and the Rays were donating to GOP campaigns. 

“It is one thing to decry corporate influence in politics. It is another to selectively revoke state benefits when companies disagree with the governor,” the board wrote. “A beneficiary of corporate free speech in the form of campaign donations, Mr. DeSantis is not standing on principle; he is bullying businesses in a series of vindictive publicity stunts.”

The Post has published a variety of columns downplaying the importance of free speech in recent weeks, such as Georgetown Law’s Alicia Plerhoples arguing that free speech could trump important matters of campus “equity,” as well as a variety of pieces assailing Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech during his pending takeover of Twitter.

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The Washington Post criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his recent veto of taxpayer funds for a new sports facility in the state.

The Washington Post criticized Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his recent veto of taxpayer funds for a new sports facility in the state. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The board added that DeSantis’ actions constitute “abusive behavior.”

“Such illiberal attacks on corporate autonomy are bad for free speech and for the health of his state’s economy. Which company will next face Mr. DeSantis’s wrath?,” the board asked. 

DeSatnis condemned the Washington Post and legacy media outlets during a press conference on Wednesday, saying, “We don’t care what you think anymore.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL SLAMS MEDIA FOR HEAPING CREDIBILITY ON ANTI-DESANTIS WHISTLEBLOWER

U.S. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously stripped Disney World of its special governance status.

U.S. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously stripped Disney World of its special governance status. (REUTERS/Scott Audette//Marco Bello)

At the time, DeSantis was asked about a recent piece from the Post that accused press secretary Christina Pushaw of potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration (FARA) Act by belatedly registering herself as a foreign agent for the former president of the country of Georgia. 

DeSantis called the article a “smear piece” and said he was “not deterred” by the attempt.

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Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report. 

Nikolas Lanum is an associate editor for Fox News Digital.

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