New York Magazine: “’When you lose your way, you’ve got to have people that are going to tell you the truth,’ [Florida MAGA Gov. Ron] DeSantis proclaimed. ‘So we hope they can get back on. But I think all of these [Central Florida Tourism Oversight District] board members very much would like to see the type of entertainment that all families can appreciate.’
“It is worth pausing a moment to grasp the full breadth of what is going on here. First, DeSantis established the principle that he can and will use the power of the state to punish private firms that exercise their First Amendment right to criticize his positions. Now he is promising to continue exerting state power to pressure the firm to produce content that comports with his own ideological agenda.
“Whether he is successful remains to be seen. But a few things ought to be clear. First, DeSantis’s treatment of Disney is not a one-off but a centerpiece of his legacy in Florida. He has repeatedly invoked the episode in his speeches, and his allies have held it up as evidence of his strength and dominance. The Murdoch media empire, which is functionally an arm of the DeSantis campaign, highlighted the Disney conquest in a New York Post front page and a Fox & Friends segment and DeSantis touted his move in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“Second, DeSantis’s authoritarian methods have met with vanishingly little resistance within his party. The only detectable Republican pushback has come from New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, who warned, “Look, Ron’s a very good governor. But I’m just trying to remind folks what we are at our core. And if we’re trying to beat the Democrats at being big-government authoritarians, remember what’s going to happen. Eventually, they’ll have power … and then they’ll start penalizing conservative businesses and conservative nonprofits and conservative ideas.” (Of course, this warning holds only if Republicans believe they will have to relinquish power. If DeSantis can truly follow the example of Viktor Orbán, losing power becomes only a theoretical risk.)
“And third, DeSantis has been very explicit about his belief that he sees his methods in Florida as a blueprint for a national agenda. So there is every reason to believe that, if elected president, DeSantis would use government power to force both public and private institutions to toe his line. Speaking out against him, or even producing content he disapproves of, would become a financially risky proposition.”