Jafter 6:30 p.m. Monday night, FloridaPolitics.com publisher Peter Schorsch got the biggest news scoop of the year.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation today executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, two sources confirm to Florida Politics,” he wrote.
– Not sure what the search warrant was about. TBH, I’m not a strong enough reporter to hunt this down, but it’s real.”
News that Mar-a-Lago was the target of an FBI search warrant soon exploded on cable television and national news sites, and was confirmed by Donald Trump in a statement released minutes later.
It was a major coup for a little-known digital news platform whose previous stories had been on a school board race and the campaign for state agriculture commissioner.
Mr. Schorsch remembers how he got the story, Mr. Schorsch said The independent it began when he received a text from an old friend in Florida politics to say he was sitting on a “yuge” story — intending to use the former president’s speaking style.
“They just left,” a source said.
Not sure what the search warrant was about.
TBH, I’m not a strong enough reporter to hunt this down, but it’s real. pic.twitter.com/hMsGhlVp3d
— Peter Schorsch (@PeterSchorschFL) August 8, 2022
“I was a bit reluctant at first, I thought ‘is this going to be like Donald Trump speaking at a car wash’.”
Mr. Schorsch called the source and they picked up gossip for about 20 minutes, until the contact casually dropped a bombshell: FBI agents were at Mar-a-Lago.
“I was like, ‘wait, we’ve been talking for 20 minutes and you’re bringing this up now?'”
Mr. Schorsch, who has covered the former president since 2015, immediately called a senior contact in the Trump world.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’re not going to like this, but the FBI is raiding Mar-a-Lago,’ and they said, ‘Oh f***.’
A few minutes later, the source called back to say, “They just left.”
“I knew I had the scoop at this point, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t die,” Schorsch said The independent.
“I was on top of the diving board and I just wanted to make sure I was going to land OK.”
Donald Trump: Aerial photo shows FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago estate
To make sure the story didn’t get lost in the social media maelstrom, he reached out to a few veteran reporter friends to give them a heads-up, then sent out the tweet to his 46,000 followers.
The tweet went viral, and within minutes the news alerts and cable news chyrons started popping up.
Aware of the incoming traffic coming his way, he contacted his ISP to get some extra capacity and ensure the site didn’t crash at the best of times.
He was encouraged to see major news outlets including CNN, the Associated Press, New York Times and others credited the story back to his tweet.
As the media inquiries began pouring in, Schorsch said he had to turn down a couple of requests to appear on cable news because it would conflict with his favorite TV show You should call Saul.
“You have to prioritize. I figured it would still be there in the morning.”
Mr. Schorsch, a former political operative, says he began blogging as a way to share gossip and help navigate his clients through the rough and tumble world of Florida politics.
He founded the nonpartisan Florida Politics a decade ago and has since grown the “Mom and Pop” organization into a thriving digital news site.
Based in St. Petersburg, he works up to 18 hours a day and employs 17 reporters who focus exclusively on state and local political elections, campaigns and shenanigans, publishing about 40-50 stories each day.
With some of the most expensive local election campaigns in the world, where millions of dollars are often spent on state races, Schorsch says The independent there is no shortage of news to hunt down.
Schorsch says the raid throws an intriguing twist on the battle between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as they battle for the 2024 Republican nomination.
“This is the biggest game of chicken ever played in politics, when one of them says they’re not going to run against the other.”
“It’s the most fascinating dynamic in American politics right now.”
Mr. DeSantis came out firing at the FBI on Tuesday morning, echoing conservative outrage, calling the raid an “escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies.”
But Ms. Schorsch says it could be a ploy by the governor to stay in Trump’s favor.
And he suspects that Trump, as he has done so many times, can turn the seemingly bad news to his advantage.
“I think Trump is very angry this morning. I hate to say it, but he has a knack for making bad things work for him. I think he might be able to boomerang this into something positive for him.”