Finally, the press is doing some hard-hitting reporting about our upcoming presidential election.
Some in the media are alleging that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wears lifts in his boots. Naturally, this “scandal” has taken on the name “Bootgate.”
Why does DeSantis’ height matter? Because throughout American history the taller presidential candidates generally defeat their shorter competitors.
LiveScience explains that the reason we vote for taller political leaders goes back to our caveman days, when height suggested a person was stronger and more capable of protecting us than were shorter people.
Though the tallest candidate generally wins, it isn’t always the case.
George W. Bush was two or three inches shorter than Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, one of our shorter presidents at 5 feet 9½ inches, was almost three inches shorter than Gerald Ford.
DeSantis is 5 feet 11 inches, about the average height of U.S. presidents. In 2019 Biden’s doctor measured him at 5 feet 11.65 inches.
The immediate challenge for DeSantis is that his presidential primary opponent Donald Trump is 6 feet 3 inches — and about 45 points ahead in the polls.
When Trump’s people noticed that DeSantis prefers to wear cowboy boots, they began joking about his height, suggesting he wore thick-heeled boots because he was insecure about his height.
Then a TikTok creator created a sketch of DeSantis’s boots, which appeared to show that DeSantis is wearing special boots to make him look taller. The nine-second video went viral.
That led to Politico — who says its mission is to give us “access to reliable information” and “nonpartisan journalism” — interviewing three boot experts who provided detailed analysis to prove that DeSantis is indeed wearing boots with lifts.
By this point the story about DeSantis’ boots had become great fodder for late night comics.
Jimmy Fallon said that the reason DeSantis hates Disney is that they won’t let him ride anything.
That’s a pretty good joke — but not as silly as our news media has become.
According to Gallup’s annual Trust in Media survey, Americans’ confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, fairly and accurately is at its lowest point since 2016, when Republicans’ trust plummeted.
In addition, in June Gallup found confidence readings in both TV news and newspapers that were near their historical lows and last December it found a record-low-tying rating of the honesty and ethics of journalists.
A majority of Republicans have long believed that the press is biased toward Democrat Party candidates. Today about 11% of Republicans have any trust in the media.
Republicans are much more likely to believe that Bootgate wouldn’t have become such a big story if a Democrat candidate like Biden or Obama was caught wearing lifts.
But here’s an interesting trend: Though a majority of Democrats still trust the media, about 58%, a growing number of Democrats are beginning to have their doubts. Last year, 70% of Democrats said they trusted the media.
No matter how you look at it, the news media’s numbers are not very good.
Goodness knows we need a robust press to uncover the truth about the people running for political office — a press that, for example, is as effective at holding politicians to account for their tax-and-spend policies as they are at investigating whether DeSantis has lifts in his boots.
Copyright 2023 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at [email protected].