Dem PBC mayor slams ’60 Minutes’ for ‘intentionally false’ DeSantis smear; says he offered first-hand truth, they declined

The Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County blasted CBS’ “60 Minutes” for a segment aired on Sunday accusing GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of engaging in a “pay-to-play” scheme with grocery chain Publix to distribute COVID-19 vaccines weeks after the company donated $100,000 to his political action committee.

“The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false,” Dave Kerner said in a statement on Monday, after acknowledging that he had watched the segment. “I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts but 60 Minutes declined.

“They know that the Governor came to Paul Beach County and met with me and the County Administrator and we asked to expand the state’s partnership with Publix to Palm Beach County,” Kerner clarified.

“We also discussed our own local plans to expand mass vaccinations [sic] centers throughout the county, which the Governor has been incredibly supporting,” he continued. “They had that information, and they left it out because it kneecaps their narrative.”

After noting that he and his staff have dealt with the pandemic for more than a year and Palm Beach County “residents, like all Americans, are tired,” Kerner said, adding that “the media is making it worse.”

“They are hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks. 60 Minutes should be ashamed,” he said.

“I think the Governor for supporting the residents of Palm Beach County. Because of his efforts, working in coordination with [county] officials, over 275,000 seniors in our county — which is over 75 percent. of the total senior population — have been vaccinated,” said Kerner. “I am proud of how our county and state leadership have executed on this important mission, and the results speak for themselves.”

Within a few hours of the broadcast, CBS News was being called out not only for insinuating that DeSantis made a dirty deal with Publix for a donation, but also for selectively editing his response to “60 Minutes” when its correspondent questioned him.

“60 Minutes ignores deadly scandals with Cuomo and Newsom in order to try to invent one with DeSantis. (Gasp: large grocery chain gives political contributions!) The FL Governor’s real crime? Not following the hysterical lead of the propaganda press, thereby making them look bad,” The Federalist’s senior editor Mollie Hemingway wrote on Sunday.

GOP communications specialist Jesse Hunt also tweeted a response from Jared Moskowitz, the top Florida official, and a Democrat, who is supervising the state’s COVID actions, in which he called out the 60 Minutes report as false.

“@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,” Moskowitz, the state’s emergency management director, wrote.

“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,” he added in response to a Miami Herald article that attempted to make the same ‘pay-for-play’ connection.

DeSantis and his administration launched a pilot program involving three Publix stores in January before expanding the program statewide after it proved to be a success and after consultations with advisers.

He announced a decision to fully expand the program in late January during a press conference.

“It’s over 242 stores where folks can go in and get a vaccine, and usually that’s within a mile or two of their home,” DeSantis said.

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Jon Dougherty

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