by Elliot Hannon edited by O Society April 14, 2020
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chose to take a slackadaisical approach to the coronavirus from the outset. The state famously allowed spring breakers to continue to rage on its beaches even as the rest of the country hunkered down at home. DeSantis showed little interest in intervening in any way, abdicating his responsibility as governor to a president who also dodged accountability and sending it right back down to the state level.
Weeks later, when DeSantis finally imposed a shelter-in-place order on April 3, eliminating large gatherings and reducing activity to the largely standard essential services, the governor chose to double back and exempt religious services from the ban. The incomprehensible decision would allow hundreds, if not thousands, of worshippers to gather, wedged shoulder to shoulder in pews, as the pandemic grew.
With the state stay-at-home order in effect until the end of the month, DeSantis made the latest in his series of questionable decisions, announcing WWE—yes, the professional wrestling entertainment behemoth—now counts as an “essential service,” exempting it from shutdown requirements.
The order signed last week applies, technically, to “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience—including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team, and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production—only if the location is closed to the general public.” The state lockdown was in place less than a week.
DeSantis says WWE will be permitted to operate “because they are critical to Florida’s economy.” WWE will now be able to tape and air live events without audiences at the WWE Performance Center near Orlando.
The governor, often referred to as a “mini-Trump,” is granting this lucrative exemption to the WWE, owned by Trump mega-booster Vince McMahon, whose wife, Linda McMahon, served in the Trump Cabinet and runs a Trump 2020 super PAC.*
“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” WWE said in a statement. “As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.”
That leaves an entire nation to rally around the hope, determination, perseverance, and presidential leadership of … professional wrestlers.