Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume panned CBS’s long-running “60 Minutes” program over a Sunday segment that improperly suggested Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis engaged in a “pay-for-play” arrangement with grocery chain Publix to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
The newsmagazine implied that DeSantis awarded Publix with the rights to provide vaccines in response to the chain’s donation of $100,000 to a DeSantis political action committee, which the governor denied.
In addition, “60 Minutes” producers were accused of deceptively editing video of a news conference where DeSantis explained the state’s reasoning for going with Publix, namely, because its stores are geographically located near the bulk of Florida’s most vulnerable populations.
“The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false,” Democratic Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said Monday in a statement.
(Video: Fox News)
“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,” he added. “They had that information, and they left it out because it kneecaps their narrative.”
After media analyst Howard Kurtz filed a report about the controversial segment, Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Hume to respond.
“At best, I think it’s a pretty sloppy piece of work,” Hume began. “As Howard just pointed out, it didn’t really include the gist of…the full measure of Gov. DeSantis’ explanation of how it happened.
“If it had, viewers of ’60 Minutes’ would know that it wasn’t just Publix that was involved, it was CVS and Walgreens had been involved earlier,” Hume continued, adding that Walmart was also part of the vaccine distribution planning.
In the portion of DeSantis’ news conference “60 Minutes” did show, the governor is seen sparring with the newsmagazine’s correspondent, who directly accused him of engaging in a “pay-to-play” scheme with Publix.
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
But another state Democratic official, Jared Moskowitz, head of Florida’s emergency management agency, also pushed back on the accusation.
“@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by @FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governors office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey,” he wrote.
“This idea why @Publix was picked has been utter nonsense. We reached out to all pharmacies and they were the only one who at the time could execute on the mission. The federal government delayed the federal pharmacy program and we yet again stepped up first to serve more seniors,” he added.
Hume went on to suggest that, had Publix not been utilized by DeSantis and state officials, “a lot of people would wonder why.”
“This was not 60 Minutes’ finest hour of journalism,” he added.
Baier responded by noting that DeSantis appears to be frequently targeted by left-leaning media while the same outlets tend to ignore or downplay highly controversial COVID decisions made by New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I think it’s reasonable to suggest that DeSantis’s star rising in the Republican Party made him a tempting target for journalists on the left, which includes most of journalists at CBS News,” Hume replied.
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