News and Commentary

CBS Doubles Down, Defends ‘60 Minutes’ After Smear Of DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes his mask off as he prepares to speak during a press conference at the Hard Rock Stadium testing site on May 06, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Tuesday, CBS doubled down after the network’s “60 Minutes” program was widely criticized for a hit piece targeting Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis.

CBS stated:

When Florida state data revealed people of color were vaccinated at a much lower rate than their wealthier neighbors, 60 MINUTES reported the facts surrounding the vaccine’s rollout, which is controlled by the governor.  We requested and conducted interviews with dozens of sources and authorities involved. We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; We spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline. The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue. Counter to his statement yesterday, we also spoke on the record with Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner. For over 50 years, the facts reported by 60 MINUTES have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions. Our story Sunday night speaks for itself. 

A spokesman for CBS told Mediaite, “As we always do for clarity, 60 Minutes used the portion of the governor’s over two-minute response that directly addressed the question from the correspondent.”

On Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes,” the program elided key sections from DeSantis’ reply to CBS’ Sharyn Alfonsi, who accused DeSantis of briefly permitting a limited number of Publix grocery stores in Palm Beach County to deliver COVID-19 vaccines before other drugstore chains after Publix contributed $100,000 to his campaign.

DeSantis noted that Publix was the first company to volunteer to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, but “60 Minutes” cut that out of the response they showed.

Mayor Dave Kerner of Palm Beach County, a Democrat, blasted “60 Minutes” for its edited version of DeSantis’ response, as The Daily Wire reported. He stated, “I watched the ’60 Minutes’ segment on Palm Beach County last night and feel compelled to issue this statement. The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false. I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and 60 Minutes declined. They know that the Governor came to Palm Beach County and met with me and the county administrator and we asked to expand the state’s partnership with Publix to Palm Beach County. We also discussed our own local plans to expand mass vaccination centers throughout the county, which the governor has been incredibly supportive. We asked and he delivered. They had that information, and they left it out because it kneecaps their narrative.”

“We have confronted this pandemic for over a year. Our residents, like all Americans, are tired. And the media is making it worse. They are hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks. ’60 Minutes’ should be ashamed,” Kerner continued. “I thank the Governor for supporting the residents of Palm Beach County. Because of his efforts, working in coordination with Palm Beach County officials, over 275,000 seniors in our county – which is over 75% of the total senior population –have been vaccinated. I am proud of how our county and state leadership have executed on this important mission, and the results speak for themselves.”

The Daily Wire noted that former Florida state Representative Jared Moskowitz, the Democratic director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management who has overseen the state’s response to the pandemic, as the Sun Sentinel reported, echoed, “@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by [FL Division of Emergency Management] and [Florida Dept. Health] as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governor[‘]s office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey.”

Numerous figures in the media condemned “60 Minutes” for its deceptive editing.

Publix issued a statement blasting Alfonsi’s claim that it donated to DeSantis’ campaign to score a contract to distribute vaccines.

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” Publix said. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.”

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