Ron DeSantis Fundraising Off Lashing Out at Students Wearing Masks - Rolling Stone
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Ron DeSantis Is Now Trying to Fundraise Off Lashing Out at Students for Wearing Masks

“You do not have to wear those masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything,” the Republican governor snapped at a group of students on Wednesday

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.


Governor Ron DeSantis is now fundraising off a video showing him barking at Florida students for having the gall to wear a mask near him during a pandemic.

“Masks are political theater,” DeSantis wrote in an email before complaining that “leftist propagandists in our media … called me a ‘bully’ for allowing children to breathe fresh air.”

The fundraising push comes a day after DeSantis lashed out at students lined up behind a podium at an event about cyber security education in schools. “You do not have to wear those masks,” he snapped at the students. “Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this Covid theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”

Some of the students seen in the video removed their masks, and some chose to keep theirs on. Seven of the children at the speech were from Middleton High School in Tampa, the Hillsborough School District told WFLA.

The superintendent of Hillsborough School District commended the students for their behavior at the speech. “We are excited our students from Middleton High School were highlighted as part of the statewide focus around cyber security education,” Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Addison Davis told the station. “As always, our students should be valued and celebrated. It is a student and parents’ choice to protect their health in a way they feel most appropriate. We are proud of the manner in which our students represented themselves and our school district.”

The father of one of the students, a high school freshman who refused to remove his mask, said he would tell DeSantis “to stop bullying kids.” A student who did remove his mask told WFLA he felt pressure from the governor to do so. “It was more of pressure of an adult figure asking me to do something and it’s just like, all right,” Eric Marshall, a senior at Middleton High School, said.


The speech took place at the University of South Florida. According to the university’s spring 2022 Covid-19 protocols, “USF expects masks to be worn when indoors, especially in a crowded setting.” But, it adds, “Some people will choose to wear masks, others will not. Each individual’s decision should be respected.”

DeSantis clearly did not seem to have much respect for the students who decided to wear masks. He didn’t acknowledge them when he left the podium.

The governor went on to make more Covid-related comments later at the event, snidely answering a reporter’s question asking if he agreed with anything in Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. “I agree, if you think about what they’ve done, Fauci is in the witness protection program now,” DeSantis said after quipping that he fell asleep during the speech. “If you listened to them, they never supported these [Covid] policies [in Florida] that were so destructive. Now it’s like they all want to be like Florida all of a sudden, and nothing has changed.”

DeSantis is apparently referring to recent CDC guidance relaxing masking recommendations, but the change has come only as cases have declined following the Omicron surge. Fauci is still making public appearances, too. He participated in a press conference on Wednesday where he said the U.S. is moving “in the right direction” in fighting the virus.

Fauci also responded to new Covid recommendations made last week by DeSantis and Florida’s surgeon general in a video titled “Buck the CDC” in which they advised businesses not require employee masking and advocated “off-label” use of unproven drugs to treat cases of Covid-19. “I’m particularly concerned about the recommendation for using drugs that have been proven to not be effective at all,” Fauci said, adding that the decision to ignore CDC guidance is “ill-advised.”

This post has been updated.

In This Article: Anthony Fauci, Ron Desantis


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