60 Minutes' Unconscionable Hit Piece on Ron DeSantis Willingly Ignores the Truth

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

The memo has gone out to the mainstream media: It’s time to destroy Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (they don’t need to bother trying to take out South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem since many in conservative media are already working on that feverishly).

Sometime in early March, an allegation emerged that Publix had received “exclusive rights” to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in Palm Beach County as a way to repay them for a $100,000 campaign contribution.

That same day, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz — a Democrat — completely shut down that narrative:

Moskowitz also pointed out that Florida was actually ahead of the federal government in pharmacy rollout. His tweet reads:

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.

Not satisfied with any explanations, during a March 23 news conference “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyl Alfonsi asked DeSantis about the allegations, and in a lengthy answer, he thoroughly debunked her narrative.

Apparently, Alfonsi wasn’t happy with being disproven, so she then set about to air a “bombshell report” exposing DeSantis’ “corruption.” In the report, as our Nick Arama reported Saturday, the formerly respected news show deceptively edited DeSantis’ answer so that only the first sentence aired — leaving viewers unaware of the full story.

In addition, Alfonsi alleged that wealthy Palm Beach County seniors “cut the line” to get access to the vaccine. She’d been reporting around Palm Beach County for three months, she said, and there was a large disparity in vaccine access between “old-monied millionaires but also some of the poorest day laborers and farm workers in America,” and that it had “deteriorate[d] into a virtual free for all…as some wealthy and well-connected residents cut the line, leaving other Floridians without a fair shot.”

Alfonsi alleges that DeSantis picked Publix to distribute the vaccine instead of public health departments, which lessened access for poor and minority residents, and that by sticking with only vaccinating those 65 and older during phase 2, teachers and essential workers were discriminated against — nevermind that there hasn’t been a large number of teachers infected or killed after being infected in the workplace.

Florida’s rollout started pretty typically. The first doses were given to health care workers and nursing home residents in early December.

But then a few weeks later, Governor Ron DeSantis, breaking from CDC guidelines, announced he would not vaccinate teachers and essential workers next but instead put “seniors first,” making anyone 65 or over eligible for the vaccine. The first in the country to do that. DeSantis said seniors were at highest risk.

And, they are at the highest risk. We all know that. Why does Alfonsi want grandparents to die?

Here is the rest of DeSantis’ explanation as to how vaccine rollout happened in Florida.

“First of all, the first pharmacies that had [the vaccine] were CVS and Walgreens and they had a long-term care mission, so they were going to the long-term care facilities. They got the vaccine in the middle of December, they started going to the long-term care facilities the third week in December to do LTCs,” DeSantis told Alfonsi. “So that was their mission, that was very important and we trusted them to do that. As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points.

“So yes, 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. 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,” DeSantis continued.

The Republican went on to say that Publix was the “first one to raise their hand” to say they were ready to distribute the vaccine.

DeSantis later added that while Palm Beach County initially “struggled” with its distribution among seniors, he noted that nearly “75%” of seniors had been vaccinated, as well as that vaccine distribution was “expanding” with CVS and Walgreens following their long-term care mission.

Why was Alfonsi so determined to write this hit piece, and especially to selectively edit it? It might be appropriate to have a conversation about whether there were problems with poorer municipalities in the state receiving adequate doses of the vaccine, but that would need to happen in the context of Alfonsi not being a hack and presenting DeSantis’ full comments. And, given that so many blue states have much worse track records and equity concerns, it’s curious (if one didn’t understand the utter corruption in the MSM) that she’d choose DeSantis to pick on.

Moskowitz, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, hit back Sunday evening, saying that Publix was recommended by the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Florida Department of Public Health because other pharmacies weren’t ready to start and that no one from DeSantis’ office suggested the chain. (Interestingly, Moskowitz isn’t cited at all in the “bombshell report.)

As the NRSC’s Matt Whitlock says, “We’re going to need a lot more information about the selective editing that went into this absurd ’60 Minutes’ hit piece on Ron DeSantis.”

Those of us who live in California — where my aunt and uncle, both in their late ’70s and with multiple underlying conditions, have been unable to even schedule a 1st vaccine appointment — are wondering when Alfonsi will roll out a “bombshell report” about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s corrupt, no-bid contract for vaccine distribution awarded to contributor Blue Shield (which RedState has already reported on)?