Rather than cover actual scandals involving Democrat governors and their botched responses to COVID, CBS’ “60 Minutes” tried to invent a scandal involving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ distribution of vaccines. To push the false narrative and protect its favored governors, “60 Minutes” refused to interview people who disputed its false narrative, selectively edited video to hide facts, and omitted data that debunked its thesis and accurately describe Florida’s success.
It’s not that “60 Minutes” couldn’t have reported on real scandals involving governors and COVID, if it wanted to. New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a media darling despite his many failures, sent COVID patients into long-term care facilities full of vulnerable people, and then covered it up. California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed draconian lockdown measures that have crushed his state’s economy, its schools, and the entire population of the state. He’s currently facing a recall attempt from citizens livid at his handling.
To protect these men, the Democrat-allied news show instead targeted Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, widely recognized for his leadership during the pandemic. Unlike most political leaders, DeSantis has balanced the health concerns from the pandemic with the public and societal health concerns of harsh lockdowns that destroy economies, children’s lives, the ability of people to provide for their families, and the right of people to worship and live their lives.
The result is a state that hasn’t just tackled COVID, but has done so without destroying families or the economy that sustains them. The success has happened even though Florida has the second-oldest population in the country and COVID is known for hitting seniors far harder than other age groups.
“60 Minutes,” known best for pushing obviously forged documents weeks prior to the 2004 election in order to harm Republican President George W. Bush, took the approach of claiming that Florida’s vaccine distribution has been uniquely “chaotic” and the result of some ill-defined “pay to play” conspiracy theory developed by its reporter Sharyn Alfonsi.
Alfonsi focused her “reporting” for the last month in beautiful Palm Beach, where she half-cooked a conspiracy theory about his vaccination distribution. One part of it is that DeSantis was only prioritizing vaccination for seniors, not because they are the group far and away the most vulnerable to getting seriously sick, hospitalized, or dying from COVID, but because Florida seniors are more likely to be wealthy and white than the rest of the population, or because they’re more likely to vote for him.
Another part of the conspiracy theory is that despite all evidence to the contrary, DeSantis had personally rammed through a decision to use Publix grocery stores for vaccine distribution. Publix was used to help out with vaccine distribution, “60 Minutes” insinuated, not because they are far and away the most ubiquitous grocery chain in Florida, but because they had given DeSantis a routine political contribution last year, totaling less than 3 percent of what he got in political contributions for February alone. Alfonsi claimed she “obtained” these reports of political contributions, a dramatic word choice for publicly available contribution records.
No one claims that Publix did a bad job with the vaccine distribution, or that they inappropriately pocketed the money from the program, which has been widely viewed as successful. Alfonsi’s position seems to be that since Publix made a typical contribution to DeSantis, he should have banned the grocery chain’s hundreds of pharmacy locations from helping distribute the vaccine to Florida’s vulnerable and aging population.
Florida works with 1,600 pharmacies throughout the state to distribute vaccines, including 730 Publix pharmacies, more than 150 CVS locations, more than 125 Sam’s Club and Walmart locations, and more than 70 Winn-Dixie locations.
DeSantis’s office offered multiple experts to talk Alfonsi off the ledge, but she absolutely refused to interview them. One of the experts Alfonsi refused to interview or feature on-air was Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz. The former elected Democrat is the state’s point person on COVID.
He previously responded to the conspiracy theory about Publix by saying that Florida bureaucrats recommended working with Publix and that they were the only pharmacy ready to help with general vaccine distribution, since other large pharmacies were already deployed for other targeted vaccinations:
@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. https://t.co/obkqYcbrzt
— Jared MASKowitz 😷 (@JaredEMoskowitz) April 4, 2021
Alfonsi also refused to speak to the Democrat mayor of Palm Beach County, who would have disputed aspects of her easily refuted conspiracy theory.
DeSantis already explained on camera that there was no conspiracy and that Publix was one of several pharmacies involved in the effort to get the state vaccinated.
However, Alfonsi and “60 Minutes” selectively edited his answer to keep the substance hidden from viewers of the program. Left out of the “60 Minutes” deceptive edit was DeSantis’s full explanation about how CVS and Walgreens were being used to focus on the long-term care facilities, that Publix offered help when they were looking for a way to help distribute to more people, that Palm Beach County requested the Publix assistance, that the program was tested before it was rolled out, and other key information. “60 Minutes” has not yet explained why they selectively edited his answer to omit the substance.
There’s so much more dishonesty in the “60 Minutes” report. Florida was the first state to prioritize seniors, coming up with innovative ways to reach the population. While as of this morning, all adults 18 years of age and older are eligible for vaccines, for a while those 65-years and older were prioritized.
“Pod” sites were set up for them in communities with large numbers of seniors. Those with low senior vaccination rates were prioritized. The first one was set up in Delray Beach at Kings Point in late December. It went so well, they were expanded across the state. The 17th of 39 pods to open was at Lakewood Ranch’s Premier Sports Complex. Here’s where “60 Minutes” developed another conspiracy theory.
The theory goes that Lakewood Ranch was chosen to be the 17th of 39 pods, a couple of months after the first successful pod, not because the area was behind in its vaccination rates but because a developer in the area had, you guessed it, given a typical contribution to the governor. Prior to setting up that pod, Florida set up 51 separate vaccination events in coordination with religious groups in underserved communities, and 16 vaccination events at senior centers.
At the time the pod was set up, only 27 percent of seniors in the county had received the vaccine, the fifth-lowest rate of Florida’s 67 counties. It also set up a pod at Colony Cove Senior Mobile Home Park. Within a week, the percentage of vaccinated seniors in the county increased to 35 percent. Now, nearly 75 percent of the seniors in the county have been vaccinated.
DeSantis’s administration says the effort was a success, but they have questions of their own. Spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice asks, “Why is the national media so drawn to this one vaccination event where 3,000 qualified senior individuals were vaccinated, while ignoring the 53,000 doses administered at state-run sites in minority communities like Pahokee; the 86,000 doses administered in partnership with the faith-based community; and the 353,000 doses administered at federal sites, where nearly half of those vaccinated have been minorities and where Florida became first in the nation to use a walk-up strategy to encourage those without access to technology to get vaccinated?”
Also left out of the “60 Minutes” package was that Florida administered more than 86,000 doses in partnership with churches, a program that drew interest from the Biden administration, so it could emulate it. In addition, Florida has focused on the needy by administering 9,000 doses to people with AIDS, doing door knocking in “underserved communities,” partnering with religion groups and AmeriCorps, deploying 14 mobile buses, focusing on farm workers and those working at meat packaging plants, doing pop-up vaccination sites at food banks, establishing a special program for Holocaust survivors, running more than 100 events at mobile home parks, and doing special outreach at low-income housing.
As with the pushing of anti-Bush forgeries, CBS News continues to push partisan propaganda at the expense of the truth. It is unclear whether its propaganda will keep its viewers from knowing the truth about Florida’s handling of COVID, much less the truth of what has happened in hard lockdown states such as New York and California.