Daily Beast's recipe for Rubio story: Extra snide, easy on the facts

I thought of my mother when I read this article about Sen. Marco Rubio in The Daily Beast. And not just because yesterday was Mother's Day. It was because of her skill in starting with leftovers and serving up soups and stews.

But that's where the similarity ends. The Beast's food stock is scorn for Rubio's idea to have "family-friendly" films and TV shows made in Florida. The result is a shapeless mélange, steeped in a thin broth of sarcasm.

Tax breaks for producers to make G and PG movies in Florida is one of 100 ideas Rubio hatched while he was speaker of the Florida house. The snide headline: "Marco Rubio’s Plan to Build a Holy Hollywood in Florida."

Before senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio wanted to transform the country, he had a more modest dream: to transform Florida into Hollywood—but with morals!  
In 2006, when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, he released a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, that featured within its inspired pages 100 ideas Rubio compiled during town hall-like meetings that he cleverly labeled “Idearaisers.”
The book is supposedly about “how every Floridian can enjoy freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness and leave for their children a better life than their own,” but there is a caveat: Rubio wanted Floridians who were in the entertainment industry to enjoy their freedom, opportunity, and pursuit of happiness in a “family friendly” way. 

The newspaper correctly quotes the idea: "Florida should create a tax incentive program aimed at attracting more film productions and TV series to the state, with a priority given to those productions that are given ‘family-friendly’ ratings such as G or PG."

But then, writer Olivia Nuzzi tee-hees over the fact that there is a City of Hollywood in Florida. Here is how she describes it:

There is a Hollywood, Florida—but not it’s not really what Rubio seems to have had in mind here. It’s sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, a cramped seaside waiting room populated by condominiums, motels, personal injury attorneys, and pawn shops. But funnily enough, Hollywood is where I happened to be when I read “IDEA 90” on Wednesday.  

Hollywood might look that way if you confine your visit to U.S. 1 or A1A. But then, you'd miss the city's downtown, with its multicultural restaurants and palm-lined streets. And ArtsPark, with its weekly family movies and monthly ArtWalk concert/art festival. Not to mention the Beach Broadwalk, where you can get ice cream or a beer, play miniature golf, listen to music at a bandshell, or lay your blanket on the sand before a dip in the Atlantic.

But the Beast isn't done snickering:

It does seem unlikely that if Rubio were to have succeeded in building his own Hollywood in Florida, he could have avoided doing it anywhere except Hollywood, Florida. Where else was he going to build it, Tallahassee? Then you’d have Hollywood, Florida, and Tallahassee, Florida (now with more Hollywood!). It would get confusing. He would have had to spend a lot of taxpayer funds reissuing maps. I asked Rubio’s campaign about this issue and received no response. 

All this without a label like "commentary" or "opinion." Are we actually expected to read it as straight news?

In fixating on the proposal for a family film industry, the Beast is clearly trying to put the "rube" in Rubio, to make him look like some bluenose. So let's look at some of the other 99 proposals.

They include:

* A single committee for both policy and budget, eliminating separate fiscal and substantive committees (Idea #35).

* Legislation to reduce the growth of the paid petition business and the influence of money in the citizen initiative process (Idea #38).

* Denying registered sex offenders and stalkers access to popular networking sites mostly used by underage children (Idea #41).

* Insurance credits for homeowners who fortify their homes against hurricane damage (Ideas #55, #56).

* Tax incentives for hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles (Idea #76).

If those are the ideas of a blue-nosed rube, let's have some more of them. But the Beast goes on:

According to the Palm Beach Post, “movies and TV shows with gay characters” could be refused the tax credit, as there was no comprehensive definition for what “nontraditional family values” meant in the text of the bill. 
The executive director for Florida Together, a coalition of equal rights groups in the state, told the publication, “Instituting 1950s-style movie censorship does nothing to support real-life families or help Florida’s struggling economy.”

Aha, that unspoken rule of mainstream media: If there is any possible gay angle, add it. Never mind that the article doesn't name Rubio. Or that the tax credit bill came up in the Florida House in 2010, after Rubio left the Florida house. Instead, the Post has then-Governor Charlie Crist declaring: "A traditional family is a marriage between a man and a woman."

All told, the Daily Beast's story reads like a menu catering to some very personal tastes. Not, I suspect, what a lot of mothers would have wanted to be served on their day.

Photo: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference National Harbor, Md. Photo by Christopher Halloran. Thumb: Rubio speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club. Photo by Albert H. Teich. Both photos via Shutterstock.com.

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