Politics

DeSantis hates the media – but not this one

ProDentim

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A lot of Florida Standardheadlines read like press releases that come straight from the governor’s communications office: ‘Popular Congressman Explains Why He Prefers DeSantis Over Trump For President In 2024.’ ‘First Lady Helps Her Furry Friends Find A Home In Tallahassee.” “Sarasota Memorial Hospital Encourages Radical LGBTQ+ Employee Training.”

But like many DeSantis superfans, Witt started out as a Trump superfan. He spoke at a few Stop the Steal rallies. He appeared on Lara Trump’s show, where she gushed that she had been a fan of his “a long time” and he recalled the day Trump won in college. “The only people that were on campus were a group of left-wing students milling around, holding their arms, crying and singing kumbaya,” he said, “and here I am with my MAGA hat. .”

When Witt was studying English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Trump’s first presidential campaign made him realize he was a conservative. His oft-repeated origin story goes like this: He had grown up as a liberal in Colorado, his mother raising him while his father was imprisoned. He loved Barack Obama and considered himself an atheist. Fox News was just something his grandparents watched.

But his left-wing professors and their lectures on oppression annoy on him. He argued with a woman he was dating at the time, a Hillary Clinton voter, about the refugee crisis in Europe. “She said, ‘Oh, you sound like a Trump supporter. And that was the first time I really thought about it,” he says.

Witt found himself watching videos made by PragerU, a conservative media giant that produces 5-minute clips aimed at persuading young people to move to the right. Witt submitted his own man-on-the-street style reel where he asked women about the pay gap, and was shocked when the organization liked him so much they asked him if he wanted an internship. It eventually turned into work.

“I personally remember walking into a CEO’s office and saying something like, ‘We need to hire this kid,'” says PragerU chief marketing officer Craig Strazzeri.

Witt dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles, where the company is based, to film campus progressives on camera. As his liberal notions faded, his interest in religion grew. He ordered the Bible from Amazon and realized that “you have this free gift that God has given you – you should take it”. He got baptized.

“I see a lot of people coming to faith for different reasons. … He came intellectually,” says Jake English, Witt’s pastor at a nondenominational Christian church outside of Tampa, whom Witt calls his best friend and a kind of father figure. “He sat down, started reading the gospels…and, of course, had an experience with God.”

His daily life was still filled with culture war fights. In one of his most famous videos, which racked up millions of views, Witt put on a fake mustache and sombrero and asked college students as well as older Latinos if they were offended (they were and were not, respectively). Other clips of the same genre include “Is It Racist to Require Voter ID?” and “What is a woman?”

On Twitter, where he has 152,000 followers, Witt is equally incendiary. Responding to a video of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) discussing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he tweeted in November: “The great replacement is just a theory, huh? The following month, he took to the site to say “I guess I’m canceled now” because Kanye West was his top artist on Spotify.

It’s all pretty Trumpy. But on a recent morning at his lakeside home 30 minutes from Tampa, Witt said, “The way I see Trump now is that he’s not the same as he was in 2016.” He wears aviator-style glasses and sits on his deck, his laptop in his hands and his anxious Labrador retriever mix, Rocky, who was rescued from a dumpster, at his feet.

His aesthetic is right-wing hipster: inside his house, there’s a large graphic display of his upcoming book; a copy of infinity joke; many other copies of the works of George RR Martin; and Mrs. Meyer’s Sustainable Dish Soap. He has converted one of his rooms into a production studio where he appears on outlets like Newsmax. It’s adorned with vintage books, faux plants, a typewriter, and a cheeky nameplate that reads “Will Witt Editor-in-Chief.”

The moment Witt changed his mind about the former president was when Trump helped put the Covid-19 hit in people’s arms – and then bragged about it. “The fact that Trump came out and said [100] millions of people would have died if not for Operation Warp Speed ​​and the vaccine they pushed through, to me it was bananas,” he says.

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