On Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes attempted to smear popular Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by implying that he was involved in a “pay to play” scheme involving the distribution of vaccines in the state with grocer Publix.
During the segment, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi mentioned that the state had partnered with Publix to distribute vaccines and that the company has donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ 2022 reelection campaign. She didn’t provide any proof that the donation was in return for the vaccine distribution rights, but hoped that her insinuation was proof enough.
The segment has sparked criticism from Democrats and liberals in the media.
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, a Democrat, was one of the first to complain saying that ’60 Minutes’ presented “intentionally false” information because he offered to give the program his insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and they declined. Kerner added that “we (mayor and the county administrator) asked” the governor to expand the state’s partnership with Publix to Palm Beach County.
The liberal fact-checking site Politifact rated the segment as may be “deceptive editing,” and the Poynter Institute said it was a “sloppy moment,” and “misses the mark.”
DeSantis is considered a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination after successfully guiding Florida through the worst parts of the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza observed that the report and subsequent backlash “amount to a massive gift to DeSantis as he looks to his reelection race next year and, he hopes, a 2024 run for the Republican presidential nomination.”