Florida’s largest grocery store and a Florida state official, who is a Democrat, slammed CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday evening following a deceptive segment the network aired about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
The segment featured reporter Sharyn Alfonsi ambushing DeSantis at a press conference last month and aggressively questioning him using a misleading narrative about the way that he has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. “60 Minutes” deceptively edited the interaction to remove nearly the entire portion of DeSantis’ response in which he thoroughly answered Alfonsi’s question and defused the central point of the segment.
Alfonsi tried to suggest that Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had engaged in pay to play by donating money to DeSantis’ campaign in exchange for being awarded a contract to distribute vaccines in the state.
“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 in a scathing statement slamming the “60 Minutes” segment. “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.”
Former Florida state Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, slammed “60 Minutes” over the segment, saying that DeSantis’ office did not push for selecting Publix. Moskowitz is the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management and has overseen the state’s response to the pandemic, “including rolling out the vaccine distribution and ensuring masks get to front-line workers,” The Sun Sentinel reported.
“@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,” Moskowitz tweeted. “Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governor[‘]s office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey.”
This is Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. He’s a Democrat, served as one in the state legislature until 2019, and campaigned for Gore and Obama. He’s not falling for this absolute garbage, and neither should you. https://t.co/Ng3pyNI87W
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) April 5, 2021
Transcript of the interaction between DeSantis and Alfonsi is featured below (All words appearing in bold were cut out by CBS News):
Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach—
Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that — what you’re saying is wrong. That’s—
Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay-to-play?
Ron DeSantis: —that, that’s a fake narrative. So, first of all, when we did, the first pharmacies that had it were CVS and Walgreens. And they had a long-term care mission. So they were going to the long-term care facilities. They got the vaccine in the middle of December, they started going to the long-term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs. So that was their mission. That was very important. And we trusted them to do that. As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive through sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more. So we reached out to other retail pharmacies — Publix, Walmart — obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission. And we said, we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that. For Publix, they were the first one to raise their hand, say they were ready to go. And you know what, we did it on a trial basis. I had three counties. I actually showed up that weekend and talked to seniors across four different Publix. How was the experience? Is this good? Should you think this is a way to go? And it was 100% positive. So we expanded it, and then folks liked it. And I can tell you, if you look at a place like Palm Beach County, they were kind of struggling at first in terms of the senior numbers. I went, I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County, and I said, “Here’s some of the options: we can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix, we can do this.” They calculated that 90% of their seniors live within a mile and a half of a Publix. And they said, “We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.” So, we did that, and what ended up happening was, you had 65 Publix in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties, we’ve done almost 75% of the seniors in Palm Beach, and the reason is because you have the strong retail footprint. So our way has been multifaceted. It has worked. And we’re also now very much expanding CVS and Walgreens, now that they’ve completed the long term care mission.
Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it’s pay-to-play, governor.
Ron DeSantis: And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative. And you don’t care about the facts. Because, obviously, I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I— I was just—
Ron DeSantis: And, so, it’s clearly not.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix —
Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You’re wrong.
Sharyn Alfonsi: —30 miles away.
Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?
Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact.