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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.24.22

Jim Boyd is helping shepherd insurance reform in Special Session.

By Peter Schorsch   

Good Tuesday morning.

Before we get into it all, here’s a top o’ the burn birthday shoutout to Rob Johnson of The Mayernick Group. He’s a great dad and husband, partner and friend. Here’s to you, Rob.

Twitter didn’t kick Donald Trump off its site because he is conservative. Twitter booted the ex-President because Trump is a serial liar who incited an insurrection hoping to overturn an election he lost.

Trump is a con man impersonating a conservative, and he rose to power on a platform of deception that damaged the nation.

Let’s keep that central fact in mind as we review the decision Monday by a federal appeals court that unanimously upheld the right of social media companies to moderate content on their platforms.

Twitter had a good reason to boot Donald Trump off, a judge ruled. Image via AP.

It’s another smackdown of a law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to punish big tech companies for “censoring” conservatives. A lower court ruled the law unconstitutional, setting the stage for Monday’s decision.

Judge Kevin Newsom from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had none of Florida’s junk argument. He laid it out while writing for the three-judge panel.

“Not in their wildest dreams could anyone in the Founding generation have imagined Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or TikTok. But ‘whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to ever-advancing technology, the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary when a new and different medium for communication appears,’” Newsom wrote, quoting from a 2011 decision on this issue.

Conservatives get a lot of mileage playing the victim on matters like this. But it follows that if the demon-possessed big-tech companies persecute them so much, how come they control so many state Legislatures, including all three branches in Florida?

What Trump did, and dozens more “conservative” charlatans mimicked, was lie through his teeth about everything. Twitter gave him a global microphone to push the lie of a stolen 2020 election.

That, in turn, led to the insurrection of Jan. 6, and people died.

Shame on DeSantis for lacking the integrity to call out Trump’s garbage.

And while we’re at it, what was Attorney General Ashley Moody reading before she took to Twitter to praise the decision?

“We are pleased the court recognized the state’s authority to rein in social media companies and upheld major portions of Florida’s law leading the way in doing so,” she wrote. “We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to demand accountability from Big Tech.”

Huh? Does Florida’s top legal eagle live in an alternate universe? The state won on a few minor points, but the decision scalded DeSantis on the big ones. That is especially true about banning candidates from the platforms.

Newsom wrote that social media sites’ “so-called ‘content-moderation’ decisions constitute protected exercises of editorial judgment.”

Translation: If Trump, DeSantis, or anyone else wants to create their platform, they can say whatever they want. But if they use Twitter, Facebook or any other site, there are rules.

The argument supporters make for the Florida law is that they should be able to lie with no consequences. That has been their game plan, and it’s a gross contortion of the First Amendment.

It’s one thing to get your facts mixed up and put out bad information, but quite another to embark on deception deliberately.

It’s not censorship to stop stuff like that. Instead, it’s a public service.


Markel Trial Day 6: Things the jury won’t hear, but matter — Before the jury entered Courtroom 3G on Monday morning, state prosecutors and defense attorneys squared off in front of Judge Robert Wheeler with a few wins and losses for each side in the process.

The first issue was the admissibility of dozens of recorded jailhouse calls by Sigfredo Garcia, recorded over the past week, following jury selection. Some were between himself and defendant Katherine Magbanua, and others were between himself and Magbanua’s attorney, Tara Kawass, who was “preparing him to be a witness” on her client’s behalf.

Kawass argued these calls should be kept from the jury and prosecutors alike, as they represent her “work product” and “defense strategy.” Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman argued that there’s no attorney-client privilege and no expectation of privacy for these conversations. However, Wheeler ruled that calls between Kawass and Garcia would not be admissible.

The Markel trial offers some behind-the-scenes maneuvers. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

The calls between Garcia and Magbanua are another story and include a substantial amount of Spanish or Spanglish that requires translation and transcription. To Wheeler, “it’s too late in the game” and “too prejudicial to the defense” to include the Spanish language calls, but the conversations in English would be allowed.

The jury also didn’t get to hear a battle waged by defense attorney Christopher DeCoste on a secondary phone number for Luis Rivera — one that had been saved in his client’s iPhone under Rivera’s nickname, Tato. DeCoste insisted that the state had never provided this evidence in discovery, and that evidence of communication between his client and this number would change defense theory and strategy.

But Assistant State Attorney Sarah Kathryn Dugan prevailed. Wheeler ruled that no discovery violation had occurred and that if there had been an omission, it was not willful or substantial.


@MGerryDoyle: in the last nine months, the U.S. Air Force has evacuated a war zone, handled weapons airlifts for like a dozen or more countries supplying Ukraine and now is on baby formula duty

@RepStephMurphy: The Trump tariffs contribute to inflation, harm U.S. families & companies, & haven’t stopped the CCP from violating trade rules. The (JoeBiden administration should repeal or reduce these tariffs. Keeping a failed policy in place isn’t tough on China; it’s bad for America.

@ConnCarroll: Do Democrats realize how crazy and out of touch they look after everything they said about Georgia’s new voting laws?

@MarcACaputo: Florida Gov. @RonDeSantisFL is used as a measuring stick at a Gov. @BrianKempGA re-election rally, where @EWErickson pointed out Georgia repped from COVID first and Kemp, “got our economy roaring before the guy to the south of us did.”

@Kylamb8Oh, and also today, @GovRonDeSantis said in passing there is no way in Florida we will support the federal government participating in the @WHO global pandemic treaty.

Tweet, tweet:


@AGAshleyMoody: We are pleased the court recognized the state’s authority to rein in social media companies and upheld major portions of Florida’s law leading the way in doing so. We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to demand accountability from Big Tech.



@SkylarZander@JeffreyBrandes is proving again today why he is going to be missed in the Legislature. Asking great questions and trying to get answers to solve Florida’s insurance crisis.

@MDixon55: So, high profile and rare election-year Special Session that put huge spotlight on property insurance rates, and they won’t actually dip before the 2022 midterm elections. Lots of layers to the Tallahassee onion this week

@ArielCohen37: The CDC has recalled several varieties of JIF peanut butter due to a salmonella outbreak.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comMay 24, 2022

Republished with permission