CNN’s Jim Acosta is taking heat from friend and foe alike, including his own viewers, for recently suggesting that at least one of the new variants of the coronavirus be named the “DeSantis variant,” claiming Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has prolonged the pandemic for not enforcing mask mandates and other restrictive measures.
“People should not have to die so some people can own the libs,” Acosta said on Saturday. “But they may end up owning the pandemic because they’re prolonging it.”
Acosta declared it was time to rename the delta variant after the Florida governor.
“Instead of the delta variant, why not call it the DeSantis variant?” Acosta asked. “We could sell beer koozies that say, ‘Don’t Florida My Fauci,’ and use the money to help pay for all of the funerals in the days to come.”
Reached for comment, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw replied that Acosta’s attacks showed CNN was “afraid” of the governor.
“It’s clear that CNN, which apparently functions as a PR firm for the Democratic Party, is afraid of Gov. DeSantis,” Pushaw said, speaking to Fox News. “Why? Because he’s leading our state through the challenges of this pandemic while respecting parents’ rights to raise their kids, workers’ rights to earn a living, and everyone’s right to make their own informed decisions.”
“DeSantis,” Pushaw added, “always made data-driven decisions and worked tirelessly to prioritize seniors and other vulnerable Floridians for the vaccines instead of relying on the ever-changing, poorly sourced ‘guidance’ of federal bureaucrats.”
His leadership, she argued, is “inconvenient for CNN’s narrative of fear over facts, and that’s why CNN is attacking him.”
Fox News contributor Joe Concha, often a foil for the hosts and anchors on CNN, like Acosta and his embattled colleague, Chris Cuomo, said it was another embarrassing chapter for the slipping network.
“Why does Acosta spend infinitely more time talking about Trump and other Republicans than he does the current president and House speaker in power?” Concha asked. “A look at transcripts of his ‘news’ program shows he’s truly state TV serving at the pleasure of the Democratic Party in attacking Republicans while barely touching the blue team. He’s an embarrassment and nothing more.”
More critics on social media ripped Acosta for making the comparison, calling it “performance art.”
“Using CNN’s ‘logic’ from last year, shouldn’t the new strain be called the Biden variant?” asked writer Doug Powers, flipping the script on Acosta.
National Review’s Isaac Schoor pointed out how Acosta criticized former President Trump when he called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”
Acosta is one of many media personalities at CNN to target DeSantis in recent months for his handling of the pandemic. Brianna Keilar called the governor an “ass” in January after he publicly sparred with CNN reporter Rosa Flores when she appeared to accuse him of not having a plan to cut down on long lines for seniors who needed to get vaccinated. She also asked what had “gone wrong with the rollout of the vaccine that we’ve seen phone lines jammed, websites crashing.”
“So you’re going to give a speech, or are you going to ask a question?” DeSantis asked her. “You asked a question, and I’m going to answer it.”
The White House has also singled out DeSantis, with President Biden recently suggesting that the governor had abandoned his duty after he and other states like Texas lifted mask mandates. DeSantis pushed back at the Biden administration in a press conference last week, suggesting that the president has no right to criticize him until he secures the southern border. Reports have shown that illegal immigrants who have contracted COVID are being released into border communities, in some cases without notifying local law enforcement.
The media and leading Democrats have it out for DeSantis, some analysts have suggested, because he is a rising star in the GOP, who may be laying the groundwork for a 2024 bid for the White House.