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5 Apr, 2021 19:24

‘Intentionally false’: ‘60 Minutes’ accused of deceptively editing DeSantis clip to push Covid-19 pay-to-play narrative

‘Intentionally false’: ‘60 Minutes’ accused of deceptively editing DeSantis clip to push Covid-19 pay-to-play narrative

CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ is being accused of deceptively editing a video of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to fit a pay-to-play accusation involving Covid-19 vaccines and the Publix grocery store chain.

The much-maligned segment from the news program features a clip of reporter Sharyn Alfonsi directly asking DeSantis at a press conference if Publix, the largest grocery store chain in the state, had been given a vaccine distribution contract in exchange for a donation to his campaign. 

The video aired by CBS, however, cut out a large portion of DeSantis’ explanation of how Publix came to be distributing vaccines. The segment showed the governor calling the accusation a “false narrative” and going back and forth with the reporter, who seemed to insist it was a "pay for play" situation. Not shown was the governor explaining that CVS and Walgreens were busy dealing with long-term care facilities, leaving Publix as the best option, especially for seniors. 

Also dropped from the CBS segment was DeSantis explaining that distribution through Publix was done on a trial basis through three counties. The contract then expanded after they received “100% positive” feedback.

It isn’t just editing that is fueling criticism of CBS, though. Publix released a statement on Monday blasting the segment about their connection to DeSantis. 

“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, noting they have distributed more than 1.5 million vaccines and have done similar work in others states like Tennessee and Virginia.

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Republican DeSantis has defenders on both sides of the political aisle. Former Florida state representative Jared Moskowitz, who is a Democrat and director of emergency management, has also disputed the pay-to-play accusation.

Moskowitz tweeted on Sunday evening that the governor and his office never recommended Publix for any contract, calling the story “absolute malarkey.”

Another Florida Democrat, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, also released a statement on Saturday, blasting the CBS segment as “intentionally false” and saying the network “should be ashamed.”

In light of the information not given through their reporting, ‘60 Minutes’ has been accused of using “deceptive editing” in the service of targeting DeSantis, who has been critical of many Covid-19 restrictions, and painting him in a negative light as his national profile rises.

“Is there any wonder why people don't trust the media?” tweeted conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. 

“Ultimately the best evidence that they have nothing on DeSantis is that their attempts to take him down are so embarrassingly bad that Florida Democrats are outraged by them,” Tablet Magazine editor Noam Blum added

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