Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
UPDATED 10:27 AM PT – Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Conservatives are holding CBS accountable after airing a “60 Minutes” segment accusing Florida’s governor of engaging in a pay-to-play scheme involving its vaccine distribution program. Gov. Ron DeSantis fired back by accusing the program of manufacturing a scandal out of thin air.
“60 Minutes” aired an episode over the weekend taking aim at Florida’s coronavirus vaccine rollout. Specifically, it accused Florida’s distribution system of favoring wealthier communities like Palm Beach County.
The show also focused on a $100,000 donation allegedly given to the governor’s super PAC in December by supermarket chain Publix. Florida partnered directly with the chain by giving it, along with some some other pharmacies, exclusive access to the state’s supply of coronavirus vaccines.
“60 Minutes” claimed that donation amounted to a pay-to-play scheme. During a press conference shown in the episode, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi attempted to push DeSantis to admit to the alleged scheme. This resulted in a tense back-and-forth.
The Daily Caller pointed out on Twitter that the exchange was deceptively edited, cherry-picking parts of DeSantis response and leaving out key parts of his answer.
Other Florida officials were quick to come to the governor’s defense, including the head of the Florida division of Emergency Management Jared Moskowitz. He noted, Publix was recommended by his team and Florida’s Health Department as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Moskowitz went on to call the accusation “absolute malarkey.”
Publix also denied the narrative in a statement posted to Twitter. The company said the irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Gov. DeSantis and its willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution effort is absolutely false as well as offensive.