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Florida's defamation bill failed due to opposition from media of all political persuasions

First Amendment and US Constitution text
First Amendment and US Constitution text

Free speech advocates aren’t taking a rest — even after a bill aimed at weakening press freedoms failed in the Florida Legislature.

Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted to weaken the laws and legal precedents that protect journalists who publish criticism of public figures. The measure failed after media of all ideological stripes opposed it. Bobby Block, the executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, says conservative outlets at first didn’t want to speak against the bill.

“It took them a little bit," Block said. "They were very reluctant, I think, initially, to be seen to be against the governor because of his high profile. But they recognized it as an existential threat, and they spoke out against it, and I think it made all the difference in the world. They exercised their First Amendment rights.”  

Pensacola Republican Representative Alex Andrade sponsored the measure in the House. He says the bill will be back next year.

Follow @MargieMenzel

Margie Menzel covers local and state government for WFSU News. She has also worked at the News Service of Florida and Gannett News Service. She earned her B.A. in history at Vanderbilt University and her M.S. in journalism at Florida A&M University.