Does a viral video portray an intense exchange between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of the 2024 Republican presidential candidates, and an audience member who swore at him during a campaign event? No, that's not true: The authentic video material was paired with an audio track containing words that were never said in public during that town hall.
The story appeared in a post published on Instagram on June 28, 2023. It said:
Florida governor Ron DeeeeeSantis at a rally today. Link where it's from https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZT8e6orCq/
Just watch #FloridaMan #FloridaNews #florida
The posted video contained the exchange that allegedly occurred between a voter and DeSantis:
Female voice: Just came here to let you know that you'll never be our president. You're just another establishment little bitch. Thank you.
Male voice: Well, okay, let's not, let's just... Some people are actually here to see me. You know, some people like me. For instance, on a show of hands, everybody. How many of you are actually gonna vote for me? One guy, okay, I guess this is just really awkward.
Here is how the post appeared on Instagram at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Jul 10 16:47:28 2023 UTC)
As the entry on Instagram said, the same clip was also posted on TikTok in the uncropped version on June 28, 2023, under the caption:
That video was slightly longer and included a different opening that appeared on the black screen before the footage and included an apparent reference to Donald Trump:
The only time I'd
None of the clips, however, actually showed the exchange in question: The supposed female voter's face did not appear in the frame in both variations, and DeSantis was filmed from the side, obscuring his facial expressions and lip movements. Yet, as he briefly turned to the camera, a slightly better quality of the TikTok version allowed spotting that the audio track was out of sync, which raised questions about the authenticity of the scene.
A longer version of this 2024 presidential campaign event was available on C-SPAN. It was uploaded on June 26, 2023. According to the file's description, the footage was filmed during "a town hall held at a veterans social club in Eagle Pass, Texas, on the U.S.-Mexico border."
In the higher-resolution C-SPAN recording, the scene begins at the 44:48 mark.
Here is the transcript of what actually was said during this exchange:
Woman in the audience: Sometimes fentanyl overdoses are not overdoses. They're poisonings. So can we start calling them what they are a poisoning? And it's a murder.
DeSantis: Absolutely. And we're sorry to hear about your daughter. And you know, unfortunately, I mean, we have two mothers, --probably even more here ---- and it's yes I mean, look at look at this. That is an American tragedy that this is happening. And I can tell you, I mean, I go back 5-10 years, think about kind of who would come up to me, and then, just in the last few [years], the number of mothers that I've met in similar circumstances, you know, these are, these are awful circumstances, and so we've got to do something about it, but I agree with you.
A Lead Stories reporter watched the meeting in its entirety of 52 minutes and 48 seconds. Fentanyl deaths as well as immigration were announced as one of the key topics in the opening remarks by DeSantis. At the 34:28 mark, another female attendee asked a question about fentanyl.
DeSantis never asked people to raise their hands to determine how many of them would vote for him. No members of the audience -- who were rather friendly to the Florida governor as it typically happens during campaign events due to the specific genre of such meetings -- called him "another establishment little bitch."
When things don't go as planned, episodes of hostile exchanges tend to attract a lot of media attention. A search for the keywords "Ron DeSantis just another establishment little bitch" on Google News does not produce any relevant results except for another fact check reaching the same conclusion that the episode in question did not take place.
The moment of the purported exchange shot from the exact same angle as the footage reused in posts on social media appears in a DeSantis campaign video at the 51:27 mark. Its content was identical to what was filmed by C-SPAN.
Some TikTok users interpreted the viral video as satire.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about Ron DeSantis can be found here.