On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered another example.
The Republican governor noted that Monday marked one year since “60 Minutes” launched a political hit piece disguised as news, in attempting to paint DeSantis as the purveyor of a pay-to-play scam involving Publix Super Markets.
The gist of the story was that Publix donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ re-election campaign, and then was rewarded when the governor’s office identified the grocery industry giant as the first pharmacy to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
Except it wasn’t true. Even Democrats rallied to the governor’s side.
Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat and then the head of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, tweeted at “60 Minutes”: “@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by @FLSERT (Florida State Emergency Response Team) and @HealthyFla (Florida Department of Health) as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governors (sic) office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey.”
Another Democrat, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, also defended DeSantis, issuing a statement, “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,” Kerner posted on the county’s website.
“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 vaccinations centers throughout the county, which the Governor has been incredibly supportive.”
“We asked and he delivered,” he continued. “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 added.
“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 added.
One reason for the criticism was that “60 minutes never aired the explanation DeSantis gave for how vaccines were distributed.
DeSantis noted that the state turned to Walgreens and CVS to take care of long-term care facilities. When the state was ready to expand its vaccination footprint, it turned to other retail pharmacies such as Publix and Walmart to get it into communities faster.
At the time, DeSantis denounced the story as “horse manure” broadcast by “smear merchants.” He returned to that on Monday.
“One year ago today, ‘60 Minutes’ ran a smear campaign against me to mislead the public,” he tweeted. “I know the corporate media thinks they can just run manufactured propaganda to advance their partisan agenda, but I will always punch back, set the record straight & fight for what’s right.”
Florida first lady Casey DeSantis also criticized “60 Minutes.”
“@RonDeSantisFL will always defend the truth and fight for what’s right in the face of verifiable lies,” she tweeted. “60 Minutes owes the Governor an apology, the clock’s been ticking.”