CBS’s 60 Minutes proclaimed that Florida governor Ron DeSantis recruited grocery chain Publix to assist with coronavirus vaccine distribution because of a campaign contribution but edited out DeSantis’s entire response to the allegation.
On Sunday, April 4, CBS News’ Sharyn Alfonsi reported that Publix grocery stores donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC, which later partnered with the state to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. “60 Minutes” aired a clip of Alfonsi confronting DeSantis at a new conference south of Orlando, accusing him of “pay to play” by giving Publix exclusive distribution rights to the vaccine after receiving the donation.
The governor corrected the record, saying Alfonsi was “wrong” and spreading a “fake narrative,” but his lengthy response was cut from the segment by CBS News editors.
A critical section of DeSantis’ response omitted by 60 Minutes is the part in which he claims that CVS and Walgreens were the first pharmacies to take charge of vaccine distribution and were initially tasked with vaccinating residents of long-term care facilities.
DeSantis said that the state wanted to expand distribution sites in January and involve other large chains with pharmacies.
“You had the counties, you had some drive-thru sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more,” DeSantis said. “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.”
This is wild. Watch Ron DeSantis’s full answer on Publix, Walgreen’s and CVS vaccine distribution and look at the edited cut 60 Minutes used: pic.twitter.com/FqTRgOZS9Z
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) April 5, 2021
After watching the edited “60 Minutes” segment about Gov. Ron DeSantis and vaccination efforts in the county, Palm Beach County’s Democratic mayor, Dave Kerner, said he felt “compelled” to issue a statement.
“The reporting was not just based on bad information—it was intentionally false,” Kerner said. “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,” he continued.
“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 in response to “60 Minutes.”
DeSantis’ popularity has grown among Republican voters, who see him as a possible presidential candidate in 2024 if President Trump decides not to run again.
The governor has emphasized his state’s refusal to close schools and businesses in the fall of 2020 as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, which Republicans applauded. Throughout the pandemic, Florida’s death rate and new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 people have been about average among U.S. states.