Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Jill FilipovicSome of the state’s counties scheduled vaccine appointments via, of all things, the ticketing website Eventbrite — an embarrassing effort that was quickly exploited by scammers. In some counties, websites crashed within minutes of opening up for vaccine enrollment. Phone lines went down for hours as thousands of people sought basic information about where, when and how to get inoculated. Elderly Floridians camped outside through a cold night and slept in their cars in an effort to get the vaccine. And when a reporter asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to explain why this was going terribly wrong, he snapped at her, acting condescendingly and ultimately refusing to fully answer. It was a stunning display of the know-nothing arrogance that got Florida — and much of the rest of the country — into this mess in the first place.The reporter, CNN’s Rosa Flores, had a simple and legitimate question: “What has gone wrong with the rollout of the vaccine, phone lines jammed, website crashing — ” But DeSantis cut her off, then mocked and berated her.Read MoreFlores stood her ground. She tried several times to ask the question, offering specifics: Senior citizens were waiting overnight for the vaccine, she said. DeSantis demanded to know where; Flores answered by ticking off a list of counties. DeSantis turned the question back at her: “Why did that happen? Did you investigate why?” Flores, apparently taken aback, pointed out that she’s not the governor, DeSantis is. She was asking him for the information, exactly as a reporter should. America's Covid vaccine campaign is not a disaster DeSantis passed the buck, blaming hospitals that offered the vaccine on a first-come first-served basis instead of requiring people to pre-register. But counties that required pre-registration were overwhelmed, too. Everywhere you look, Floridians are frustrated as the systems around them fail. DeSantis just dodged, apparently under the impression that the ultimate responsibility of getting vaccines to Florida residents does not fall to the Florida governor. The United States is already behind in its vaccine program, as every day the deaths stack up, infections rise and the public continues to live in near-lockdown and pervasive fear. The federal government long ago ceded responsibility for managing this pandemic, and too many governors seem to be following President Donald Trump’s do-nothing lead. Is it fair or sane that the vaccine program has fallen nearly entirely to the states? No. But it is where we are. And so we need our state leaders to buck up and do a better job than the President. Instead, governors like DeSantis are emulating Trump, not outshining him. His passing of blame, the anger at being questioned, the insult-lobbing at journalists (and female journalists in particular), the arrogance to believe that, despite being a public servant, you aren’t accountable to the public — it’s all out of the Trump playbook.And while DeSantis and his supporters may find it satisfying to see him putting a female member of media in her place, that kind of playing to the cameras does nothing to solve the real problem: too many Floridians are getting sick and dying and too few are getting vaccinated.Get our free weekly newsletter
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One in five Floridians is over 65, and a quarter of all Americans over 65 call Florida, Texas or California home. Covid-19 is a virus that grows more deadly along with the age of the person it infects. And now we have a vaccine — but thousands of at-risk Americans desperate to get it instead find themselves freezing in overnight lines, staring at crashed websites or telephoning in vain.All of this, and DeSantis gets angry at a reporter? That’s not leadership. It is self-absorption and cowardice. And he,along with all of the other politicians who have so totally failed their constituents in a moment when the stakes are life and death, should never live it down.