60 Minutes Sees Backlash Over Story on DeSantis

Florida Democrats join those saying negative piece about vaccine distribution is off base
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2021 10:59 AM CDT
60 Minutes Under Fire Over Story on DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

60 Minutes aired a damning story about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday, and it continues to reverberate. But this time, the backlash seems to be more against 60 Minutes instead of its target. Even Democrats in the state are coming to the defense of the Republican governor. Coverage:

  • The allegation: The story pointed out that Florida gave the Publix supermarket chain a deal to distribute COVID vaccines weeks after Publix gave DeSantis a $100,000 donation. During an exchange with the governor, correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi raised the suggestion of a shady "pay to play" arrangement. But as Oliver Darcy writes at CNN, the story didn't present any "substantive evidence" to back up the assertion.

  • In defense: DeSantis and Publix emphatically denied any such quid pro quo, which might be expected. But two prominent state Democrats—Emergency Management director Jared Moskowitz and Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner—also have come out to say the assertion is bogus, per Axios.
  • Criticism: Conservative media in particular is castigating 60 Minutes. "Do you know how unfair a story has to be to a Republican, especially a Trumpist Republican with national ambitions, for multiple Democrats to step up in his defense?" writes Allahpundit at Hot Air. It's laughable to think that a "modest" $100,000 donation would give Publix the contract, he adds.
  • Criticism, II: An editorial at the National Review notes that Publix is the biggest grocery chain in Florida, and thus "it would have been surprising if Publix had not been one of the major players in the state's effort." The editors also accuse 60 Minutes of deceptively editing DeSantis' answer to a question at press conference. (The link has his full response.)
  • Response: 60 Minutes is standing by the story, saying the governor twice declined interview requests to clear everything up. As for the criticism about the press conference, a spokesperson says, "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."
  • Politics: DeSantis appears to be scoring political points off this, with Axios noting that he appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox show Monday night to address the story. "It was done with malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth," he said.
(More Ron DeSantis stories.)

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