NBC News Tried to Fact Check Gov. Ron DeSantis on Abortion… It Didn’t Go So Well

Gov. Ron DeSantis sat down with NBC News for an interview with reporter Dasha Burns that included a back and forth about the 2024 GOP hopeful’s stance on abortion compared to the Democrat Party. Burns attempted a real-time fact check that many who actually understand abortion policy have criticized.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Rich Lowry and Michael Brendan Dougherty of National Review to discuss the exchange and why the DeSantis campaign is in need of more moments like this.

DeSantis and NBC News Spar Over Abortion

In an interview with NBC News that was released on Monday and aired in part on the Today Show, Burns asked Gov. DeSantis about his position on abortion and whether or not he would support legislation at a federal level that mirrors the six-week ban recently passed in Florida.

DeSantis said he believes abortion policy is best left to the states. “I think the reality is that that basically means the states are going to have primary control over it,” he told Burns. When asked specifically if he would veto a national abortion ban, DeSantis did not give a yes or no answer. “We will be a pro-life president, and we will support pro-life policies,” he said. “I would not allow what a lot of the left wants to do, which is to override pro-life protections throughout the country, all the way up, really, until the moment of birth in some instances, which I think is infanticide.”

That characterization led to an attempted real-time fact check from Burns. “I’m sorry, I’ve got to push back on you on that because that, that’s a misrepresentation of what’s happening,” she said. “I mean, that – 1.3 percent of abortions happen at 21 weeks or higher. There’s no evidence of Democrats pushing for abortions up until–”

The governor, however, doubled down. “But their view is, is that all the way up until that yet there should not be any legal protections,” he interjected. Burns then spoke over DeSantis, adding “there is no indication that Democrats are pushing that.” 

That’s where the exchange ended if you watched the edit that aired on the Today Show, but a longer cut revealed that the Florida governor went on to name California as an example of a Democrat-run state that has ensured unfettered access to abortion. Burns tried to counter that the state has “not instituted that policy,” to which DeSantis responded that “they have.”

Fact Check Fail

Later on Monday, the DeSantis campaign released a video montage showing an array of Democrat politicians – including Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham – publicly stating their support for the policies Burns attempted to fact check.

On social media, users also pointed to states like Colorado, New York, and Maine that have all expanded access to abortion in recent years. Dougherty noted that Burns should have been aware of the legislation that is being proposed and passed in blue states across the U.S.. “Democrats are campaigning… to go back to [Roe v. Wade] state by state through these constitutional amendments, and they’re doing it right now,” he said. “So, there’s no excuse for NBC to screw this up.”

Megyn said it was clear to her that Burns was going off script with her retort because of her own experience at NBC News. “Let me tell you – having worked there, they pour over your questions with a fine tooth comb,” she shared. “This was her trying to do a live fact-check, and it was an utter fail.”

DeSantis vs. The Media

During an election cycle in which former President Donald Trump is dominating media coverage and the polls in large part due to the trio of indictments he is currently facing, Megyn, Dougherty, and Lowry agreed that these sorts of substantive clashes on network television are exactly what the rest of the Republican field needs. “This shows why Ron DeSantis needed to do interviews with legacy mainstream corporate media,” Lowry noted. “We’re talking about this hit in a way we wouldn’t if it was just another friendly segment on Fox News because there was conflict.”

While Megyn said the governor’s performance on the abortion topic was “fine” and he did “push back,” she was left wanting more. “He could do better and he should do better,” she said. “He’s the underdog – to be charitable about it – and he needs the big moment.” 

She offered an alternative for how the conversation could have gone. “He needs to be in your face: ‘This is what you Democrats do. This is what the media does. They take this hot button issue and they mislead on it. By the way, do you not care about the 12,000 babies [who were terminated at 21 weeks or later]? You don’t think that a nine month baby in the womb has the right to be born? That’s up to the mother, Dasha,’” Megyn concluded. “We know he’s capable of it, so I’m not sure why he’s not swinging for the fences here and in other exchanges.”

You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Lowry and Dougherty by tuning in to episode 603 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.