Governor Ron DeSantis

CBS Joins NBC Spreading Falsehoods About Florida Book Review Under DeSantis Law

It appears CBS News also doesn’t want to interview Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (File Photo)

It appears CBS News also doesn’t want to interview Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Just days after the Republican governor’s communications team announced it was cutting off NBC News over a lie spread by reporter Andrea Mitchell, CBS News decided it would allow a similar falsehood in its Saturday morning show.

The broadcast featured a report by correspondent Michelle Miller on a children’s picture book, “Sulwe,” which features a little black girl as the main character.

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The conservative website described the report as fairly conventional until a footnote at the end.

“Sulwe has been banned in some Florida schools and might be banned statewide under the Stop Woke Act,” Miller claimed.

“[Vashti Harrison, the author] says it’s disappointing and upsetting, but she will continue to work on stories with diverse characters. The fact that Sulwe, a character, trying to find her identity and be okay with it would be banned because she’s a black character, she just couldn’t believe it, but these are stories for everyone.”

Miller offered no evidence the book had been banned.

Her reference seems to be actions taken in Jacksonville, where Duval County Public Schools officials told teachers to remove books if they were unsure if they complied with a new state law that prohibits books from elementary school libraries if they include pornography, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3, or racial discrimination.

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A “certified media specialist” must review the books to ensure compliance.

First Coast News reported last month that the head of the anti-DeSantis teachers’ union in Duval County noted, “We’re telling our employees when in doubt remove the book.”

The problem for Miller is that Duval County has been rocked by two fake scandals over the library books issues.

The Free Press reported earlier this week that Brian Covey, a substitute teacher at Mandarin Middle School in Duval County, was fired after it was determined he circulated a lie about an alleged book ban at the school.

Covey was canned after the school district and the company that supplies substitute teachers agreed that a video he posted on social media of empty library shelves, suggesting the school was banning every book, was a “misrepresentation” of the actual situation.

Duval County was the source of another fake narrative concerning a children’s book about baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

Liberals, including MSNBC’s Joy Reid on Wednesday, claimed the book had been banned in Florida.

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The problem for Reid was that her story was also a lie. As Newsbusters explained this week, 10 days before she claimed the Clemente book had been axed, Duval County actually released a statement saying the book had been pulled, reviewed, and subsequently approved for children.

That happened after state Education Secretary Manny Diaz Jr. got wind of the Clemente controversy and asked the school district to explain.

“As required by state law, we are in the process of having certified media specialists review all classroom library books. “Hank Aaron’s Dream” by Matt Tavares and “Roberto Clemente” by Wil Mara has been reviewed and approved. Unfortunately, several advocacy blog sites are incorrectly stating these books were banned,” Duval County school district said in a statement.

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“The books were not banned, but because they are books and because of Florida law, they required review by a certified media specialist before they could be released to classrooms.”

Those same “advocacy groups” now assert “Sulwe” was banned. For example, PEN America, a left-wing group for authors, included the book on the same “banned” list as the Clemente book. 

On Saturday, DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin tweeted a response to Miller’s report.

“America, here’s @CBSMMiller lying to your face on @CBS with zero accountability from her cohosts or the network,” said Griffin. “No book in Florida is ‘banned statewide,’ and no book would be permissibly removed from a classroom for having a black character.’ They want you to be misinformed.”  

Jeremy Redfern, another DeSantis spokesman, also tweeted about Miller’s claims, saying, “From what I can tell, this sounds like a book that wants kids to learn who they are and be comfortable in their own skin. I believe that’s ‘literally transphobic’ now.”

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The Free Press recently reported that Griffin notified NBC that DeSantis would not sit for interviews with the network or any of its affiliates after MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell claimed DeSantis did not want slavery taught in schools, even though teaching black history and specifically slavery are mandated as subjects by state law.

Days after making that claim, Mitchell said on air that her comments were “imprecise,” but she did not actually apologize for lying about DeSantis.

No word yet on whether DeSantis’ team is demanding that CBS apologize for its misleading report.

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