Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has criticized 60 Minutes for ‘deceptively editing’ his exchange with a correspondent in a piece accusing him of breaking a ‘pay-for-play’ deal with supermarket chain Publix for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as even Democratic officials in the state say the program ignored key evidence that contradicted the claim.
Sunday’s episode of the once venerable CBS News program revealed that weeks before Publix landed the lucrative contract, the chain donated $ 100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis.
60 Minutes implied in the play that Publix was the only source of vaccines in Palm Beach County, which is incorrect, and blamed the Publix deal for exacerbating racial and economic disparities in vaccine distribution.
The report also featured a spirited exchange between correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi and the Republican Governor, in which he blamed the allegations as a ‘false story’ – just minutes of DeSantis explaining the Publix contract, cutting out the show, causing him and others to deceive accused.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hit 60 minutes for ‘deceptively’ editing his conversation with a correspondent into a piece accusing him of breaking a ‘pay-for-play’ deal
Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes featured a spirited exchange between correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi (left) and the Republican governor, denouncing the allegations as a ‘false story’ – just minutes away from DeSantis explaining the Publix contract.
A spokesperson for 60 Minutes told DailyMail.com in a statement, “As we always do for the sake of clarity, 60 Minutes used the over two-minute portion of the governor’s answer that addressed the correspondent’s question directly.”
The 60 Minutes team spent three months in Palm Beach County before the lengthy report, investigating allegations of inequality in vaccine distribution there and pointing the finger at the Publix deal, which will see correspondent Alfonsi’s pay-for-play called.
After the report aired, key Florida Democrats responded harshly, saying they had offered 60 Minutes evidence that political donations were not part of the Publix contract, which the program ignored.
‘I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by [Florida Division of Emergency Management] and [Department of Health] because the other pharmacies were not ready to start, ”said Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz in a tweet.
‘Period! Point! No one from the governor’s office suggested Publix. It’s just an absolute malarkey, ”added Moskowitz, who previously served as a Democratic lawmaker in the Florida state house.
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, also a Democrat, had even harder words, calling the 60 Minutes report “intentionally false” and saying the program “should be ashamed.”
Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz (left) and Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner (right), both Democrats, condemned the 60 Minutes report as false
“The coverage wasn’t just based on bad information – it was deliberately false,” Kerner said in a statement. “I know this because I offered to share my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and declined for 60 minutes.”
“They know the governor came to Palm Beach County and met with me and the County Administrator, and we asked for the state’s partnership with Publix to be extended to Palm Beach County,” he said.
“They had that information, and they left it out because it was their kneecaps story,” Kerner added. 60 minutes should be ashamed. ‘
A spokesman for CBS News declined to respond to the criticism from Moskowitz and Kerner when it was reached by DailyMail.com Monday night.
DeSantis also spoke out in an interview on Monday, saying that 60 Minutes omitted key facts about the Florida vaccine rollout from their reporting.
‘They don’t believe in facts. It was a political story, it was done with malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth, ” DeSantis told Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson.
“They didn’t want to talk to the people most relevant to this, because they know those important Democrats, Jared Moskowitz and Mayor Dave Kerner, would blow their story,” he continued. “So they just put their heads in the sand and pretended those facts didn’t exist.”
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner issued a damning statement calling the 60 Minutes report “ intentionally false ” and saying the program should “ be ashamed ”
DeSantis praised his approach to vaccine rollout, which rejected CDC guidelines to focus on the early rollout on seniors, saying the state had “ seen hospital admissions drop sharply among seniors as a result. ”
“ Obviously they were in Florida for three months, 60 minutes, trying to dredge up whatever dirt they could use to smear me out, and the best they could come up with is some baseless conspiracy theory that could easily be debunked. ” , DeSantis said.
“Not just by me — who they edited — but by two prominent Democrats in the state of Florida,” he said.
Many critics also accused 60 Minutes of having deceptively edited the correspondent exchange with DeSantis, with conservative writer AG Hamilton pointing out that the program “ cut several minutes ” of the Governor’s comments explaining what constituted the deal. with Publix.
The segment aired on Sunday featured correspondent Alfonsi in a brief but heated conversation with DeSantis.
“Publix, as you know, donated $ 100,000 to your campaign,” Alfonsi told DeSantis in an excerpt from a March 22 press conference. ‘And then you awarded them the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccine in Palm Beach …’
“First of all, what you’re saying is wrong,” DeSantis retorted.
“How can that not pay for play?” Alfonsi asked.
“That’s a fake story,” DeSantis replied. ‘I met the county mayor, I met the clerk, I met all the people in Palm Beach County and I said,’ Here are some of the options: we can do more drive-thru locations, we can give more to hospitals , we can do the Publix. ‘And they said,’ We think that would be easiest for our residents. ‘
“The criticism here is that it’s pay for play, Governor,” Alfonsi told DeSantis.
“And it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” the governor fired back. ‘It’s a fake story. I just dropped you from the story. And you don’t care about the facts. Because I have clearly laid it out in front of you in a way that is undeniable. ‘
Critics accused 60 minutes of fraudulently editing the correspondent exchange with DeSantis, which detailed the origins of the Publix contract
The full exchange, not seen at 60 minutes, featured the following comments from DeSantis.
‘First of all, the first pharmacies that had that [the vaccine] were CVS and Walgreens and they were on a long-term care mission, so they went to the long-term care facilities, ”DeSantis said during the 60-minute section.
“They got the vaccine in mid-December, and they started going to long-term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs,” DeSantis told Alfonsi.
‘So that was their mission, it was very important and we trusted them to do it. When we arrived in January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. ‘
“So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive-thru locations, you had hospitals doing a lot, but we wanted to get it more in the communities,” he continued.
“So we contacted other pharmacies: Publix, Walmart, of course CVS and Walgreens had to complete that mission and we said we would use you as soon as you are done with that,” DeSantis continued.
DeSantis insisted that Publix was the “first to raise its hand” to say they were ready to distribute the vaccine.
They have rolled out the vaccine on a “trial basis” in three counties, which received “100 percent positive” feedback from seniors, he said.
DeSantis addressed concerns in Palm Beach County, saying that while the county initially “ struggled ” with distribution, it had now vaccinated nearly three-quarters of all seniors and that distribution would continue to expand.
In a statement 60 minutes after the report came out, a Publix spokesman overturned the claim that donations affected the vaccine contract.
“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a link between campaign contributions to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to work with other pharmacies to support the state’s efforts to distribute vaccines is absolutely false and insulting,” the company said.
“ We are proud of our pharmacy associates who have administered more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and are joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part in helping our communities get out of the pandemic. ‘