In loaded request for comment, Forbes contributor accuses DeSantis of tapping ‘into the most primitive, racist proclivities of his electorate’

Bryan Griffin, who serves as press secretary to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, shared a screenshot of a request for comment that accused the governor of tapping into voters’ “racist proclivities” by using the word “woke.”

“Greetings, I’m a Forbes Careers Senior Contributor conducting research for an article tentatively titled, ”Woke’ Has Become an Anti-Equity Slur, and Workplaces Shouldn’t Condone It.’ The article references Governor DeSantis’ persistent use of the pejorative, divisive term (‘woke’) and argues that he’s adopted the famous Lee Atwater strategy of weaponinging coded language to tap into the most primitive, racist proclivities of his electorate,” the comment request read, according to the screenshot Griffin posted. “If you’d like to provide an on the record comment on this issue, please email that to me by 3/28 at 2:00 pm ET,” the note said.

Griffin also shared a screenshot of his own response to the request.

“Dana, you’ve already stated your position. You aren’t truth seeking, you’re participating in partisan activism,” Griffin wrote. “‘Woke’ originated as—and continues to be—a self-assigned label from the left. Perhaps ask the ‘woke’ thought leaders why so many people have rejected their hateful ideology. Meanwhile, as Governor Ron DeSantis has promised, Florida will continue to be where ‘woke’ goes to die.”

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Earlier this year, Politico published a piece featuring an interview with then-Politico Florida Bureau Chief Matt Dixon, who claimed that DeSantis’ communications team worsens its relationship with the media by sharing screenshots of reporters’ questions on Twitter.

“Calling them confrontational does a disservice to the word confrontational,” Dixon said of the governor’s communications team. “Under DeSantis, the institution of public communications has been upended. It previously was an area that always had some healthy tension between reporters and communications staff, but now the creation of tension is the point, as opposed to an occasional byproduct. DeSantis’ communications team has openly boasted about how it’s not their job to help members of the media, and are well known for taking screenshots of reporter questions and posting them on Twitter, a habit that only makes the relationship worse. Stories that they disagree with often end up as standalone headlines on right-wing websites or Fox News, and then will be endlessly retweeted and circulated by the community of Twitter trolls they have helped cultivate.” Dixon is now with NBC News.

“BREAKING: @politico tells @politico that @politico isn’t treated nicely enough because @politico sends emails that @politico doesn’t want the world to see,” Griffin tweeted at the time.

DeSantis, who won a resounding re-election victory during Florida’s 2022 gubernatorial contest, is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. The governor has said that he thinks he has what it takes to be president and that he believes he could defeat President Joe Biden, but he claims that he has not made the “final decision” on whether he will run.

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