Matt Dixon has departed Politico Florida as its bureau chief after nearly a decade there “covering the Sunshine State’s government and political scene,” as his official bio puts it.
As of Wednesday, he’s the newest politics reporter for NBC News, remaining based in Tallahassee, and focused on chronicling the expected evolution of Florida’s Ron DeSantis from “America’s governor” to a candidate for the GOP presidential primary in 2024.
He had a first-day scoop with a story on a "pro-Trump super PAC ... filing a complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission over what it says is the governor's 'shadow presidential campaign.' "
We’ll skip the Green Bay Packers jokes (he’s a big fan) and dive right into a 'Five Questions' with the Wisconsin native. As always, questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Tell us a little bit about the new job.
It’s going to be a lot of coverage, obviously, on 2024 and Gov. DeSantis and sort of how he's positioning himself, but I'll still be in the capital doing legislative coverage. But more sort of big picture stuff and more DeSantis agenda, as opposed to in the weeds, grinding it out in committee rooms. It will look like the job that I currently have with a slightly different focus … I would assume that there's going to be more travel, now that I've watched the NBC News political team and their coverage over the past couple weeks.
Are you essentially the new Marc Caputo?
(laughs) I mean, there was a position open in Florida and they hired me for that position. That’s all I know.
What is a story that you did recently for Politico that you think will best exemplify what you will be doing for NBC News?
We recently dove in and did a graphic presentation along with a lot of text about Gov. DeSantis and his inner circle. I touched on both the folks who help him make the biggest decisions legislatively and his growing political orbit. So I think things like that, diving into more of the minutia, the weeds of a budding presidential campaign – which is what we all think it is – will be a lot of my focus moving forward.
With the governor and his team now boycotting NBC, how difficult is that going to make your job?
We're all in the same boat for the most part in that regard. Gov. DeSantis doesn't do many interviews with what would be considered traditional media. I mean, we certainly weren't getting them when I was at Politico, and most other organizations that cover him sort of have a similar dynamic. So I don't think it'll change how I do anything or really how any of my colleagues do anything considering (the relationship between DeSantis and the news media) is not a collegial relationship to begin with.
What does the Florida news media get right and what does it get wrong in terms of what it covers and how?
I think that the Florida news media gets a lot right as far projecting the trajectory of what Gov. DeSantis is doing. There’s a lot that gets national attention that deserves national attention. … I just think there's too few reporters. Some of the in-the-weeds nature state government, things that can impact millions or billions of dollars, but not necessarily splashy, can sometimes go undercovered. I guess covering procurement would be in there. But I think that is more of a byproduct of there being fewer of us than any sort of talent deficit.
Health care is, as you know, over a third of the state budget. Agencies like (the Agency for Health Care Administration) are where more procurement coverage would fall into this. You know, billions upon billions of dollars that doesn't get as much attention or scrutiny as … their overall level of importance relative to state government would necessitate.