CBS blasted for statement defending '60 Minutes' report on DeSantis: 'Going to make things worse'

The venerable newsmagazine suggested during Sunday’s program that the governor had rewarded Publix with the right to distribute the coronavirus vaccine after the company made a $ 100,000 contribution to his campaign. However, the report was accused of deceptively editing remarks DeSantis made to a correspondent that explained his administration’s arragement with the popular chain.

Democratic state officials, conservative pundits, Publix, and DeSantis himself have rejected the story. Meanwhile, CBS News issued a statement on Tuesday that ignored the story’s key accusation.

CBS NEWS STANDS BY WIDELY CRITIZED ’60 MINUTES’ REPORT ON DESANTIS, IGNORES DISPUTED ‘PAY-FOR-PLAY’ ANGLE

“When Florida state data revealed people of color were vaccinated at a much lower rate than their wealthier neighbors, ‘60 Minutes’ reported the facts surrounding the vaccine’s rollout, which is controlled by the governor,” a CBS News spokesperson told Fox News. “We requested and conducted interviews with dozens of sources and authorities involved. We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; we spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline. The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue.

“Counter to his statement yesterday, we also spoke on the record with Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner. For over 50 years, the facts reported by 60 MINUTES have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions,” the spokesperson continued. “Our story Sunday night speaks for itself.”

Moskowitz and Kerner, both Democrats, spoke out against “60 Minutes” after the story aired.

“The reporting was not just based on bad information – it was intentionally false,” Kerner said in a statement on Monday. “’60 Minutes’ should be ashamed.”

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON ’60 MINUTES’ TO CORRECT, RETRACT DESANTIS REPORT: CRITIC SAYS ‘CBS CLEARLY MADE MISTAKES’

Moskowitz and Kerner did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding CBS News’ statement.

When asked why a defense of the pay-for-play allegations raised by the “60 Minutes” report wasn’t in the statement, a CBS News spokesperson told Fox News the program simply repeated claims already made in Florida newspapers and declined additional comment.

Critics panned the new statement for not addressing the “pay for play” narrative or the charge of deceptive editing. 

“This digging in is really only going to make things worse,” GOP strategist Matt Whitlock predicted. “Everyone has access to the video and can see exactly how they deceptively edited the interview to fit a pre-set narrative, truth be damned.”

“Their segment focused heavily on the Publix angle of the story and this statement makes 0 mention of their deceptive editing to smear DeSantis,” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saaevdra reacted.

CBS GOES DARK ON DESANTIS, AVOIDS MENTIONING ’60 MINUTES’ REPORT ON MORNING, EVENING NEWS PROGRAMS

“This is the kind of statement you make when you know the broader media apparatus will protect you,” Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer wrote. 

“CBS is basically just a glorified vox or media matters now,” Daily Caller’s Logan Hall quipped.

“@60Minutes is playing the race card. Unreal,” attorney Michael Henry knocked the CBS program.

Publix called the notion that it received special access “absolutely false and offensive.”

“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,” a Publix spokesperson told Fox News. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.”

A preview clip released Friday showed a tense exchange between DeSantis and “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi over what the CBS reporter suggested was influence-peddling.

However, as first pointed out by conservative writer A.G. Hamilton, “60 Minutes” cut several minutes from the press conference, during which DeSantis explained that CVS and Walgreens had the vaccine first during its rollout at senior communities and long-term care facilities while Publix was the first chain to volunteer to roll out the vaccine in its stores. DeSantis also told Alfonsi that CVS and Walgreens would also get the vaccine when their mission of vaccinating Florida’s seniors was completed. 

A CBS spokesperson initially told Fox News about the edited exchange: “As we always do for clarity, 60 MINUTES used the portion of the Governor’s over 2-minute response that directly addressed the question from the correspondent.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report. 

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