Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses to appear on NBC News or MSNBC until one of the network’s hosts apologizes for what she has already conceded to be an “imprecise” statement on the Republican hardliner’s views about how Black history should be taught.
DeSantis has already sparked criticism for how his administration rejected an Advanced Placement (AP) course on Black history that is being offered to high schools nationwide, prompting accusations that the governor was trying to whitewash history — especially in conjunction with his so-called “Stop WOKE Act.” Passed last year, the act is widely viewed as a tool to help prevent the teaching of systemic inequality.
During an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris that aired last week, Andrea Mitchell, chief Washington correspondent for NBC News, said that DeSantis did not want “slavery and the aftermath of slavery” to be taught in Florida schools.
The statement was inaccurate, but Mitchell did not immediately correct herself, and neither did Harris.
On Wednesday, Mitchell added a postscript to the interview:
“In my interview last Friday with Vice President Harris, I was imprecise in summarizing Governor DeSantis’s position about teaching slavery in schools. Governor DeSantis is not opposed to teaching the fact of slavery in schools, but he has opposed the teaching of an African-American studies curriculum, as well as the use of some authors and source materials that historians and teachers say makes it all but impossible for students to understand the broader historic and political context behind slavery and its aftermath in the years since.”
DeSantis’ press secretary, Bryan Griffin, demanded a full apology from Mitchell for her initial overstatement.
“I think we need to take a step back. There will be no consideration of anything related to NBC Universal or its affiliates until and at least Andrea Mitchell corrects the blatant lie she made about the governor … and NBC and its affiliates display a consistent track record of truthful reporting,” Griffin said in a statement posted to his Twitter page.
The Florida Department of Education claimed that the AP course “significantly lacks educational value” and stood “inexplicably contrary to Florida law.”
When the College Board, which organizes AP courses, subsequently released the course’s official curriculum, it was accused of removing references to Black feminism and gay Black culture to appease conservatives. The College Board rejected the claims, saying it had not been cowed.