Just as they do most weeks, “60 Minutes” ended Sunday’s program with a viewer mail segment. Hosted by correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi, the segment focused on her recent report that was widely panned as a politically motivated hit piece on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In what was considered deceptive editing, Alfonsi asked the Republican governor last week about using the popular Florida supermarket chain Publix as an exclusive Covid vaccination site after the company made a large donation to his campaign.
Not only was the premise of the question wrong, Publix did not have exclusive rights, but “60 Minutes” left DeSantis’ detailed answer explaining the process that played out on the cutting room floor.
CBS News decided to address the controversy by letting readers voice their opinions, opening with a complimentary letter.
“In the mail this week comments on our story about disparities in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County, Florida,” Alfonsi began. “Viewers focused on an exchange Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference. Some viewers, including a retired newsman, applauded the story.”
Sunday’s @60Minutes ended with @Sharyn_Alfonsi reading comments about her shoddy hit piece on @RonDeSantisFL. She didn’t acknowledge doing anything wrong. “Some viewers, including a retired newsman, applauded the story.” #60Minutes pic.twitter.com/v5qEwT5PXc
— Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) April 12, 2021
While you might be expecting her to drop a letter from liberal zealot Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor, Alfonsi displayed a letter from Nick Boryack praising their reporting and encouraging them to “to continue to investigate and disclose the truth.”
If Boryack is a retired newsman, the online trail appears to have grown cold. As for disclosing the truth, that may prove to be a watershed moment in the story.
Next was a letter criticizing “60 Minutes” for “shameful, bias reporting,” and another just as critical.
And that was it.
The reporter at the center of the controversy did not offer any commentary on her own reporting, or how it was received.
Nor did she admit to any wrongdoing in what was seen as a hostile “gotcha” attempt. She threw her question out during a public Q&A. Alfonsi justified her tactic by saying DeSantis had declined a request for an interview.
A hostile Alfonsi had essentially accused Gov. DeSantis in public of “pay for play.”
“That’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis had replied. “I met with the county mayor, I met with the administrator, I met with all the folks at Palm Beach County and I said, ‘Here’s some of the options: We can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix.’ And they said, ‘We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.”
But the show edited out the governor detailing how a “multifaceted” approach was pursued, which included CVS and Walgreens focused on long-term care facilities, and that Publix, the largest supermarket chain in Florida with more than 800 stores, was the “first one to raise their hand” to say they were ready to administer the vaccine to the general public.
Media Research Center Vice President Brent Baker, who shared the footage above, told the Washington Examiner Sunday’s mail segment is “fresh evidence” to never trust the media to be fair.
“A very prominent example of how the news media refuse to hold themselves accountable which provides more fresh evidence for why anyone right of center has no reason to ever trust journalists to be fair to a conservative elected official,” Baker said. “After a week in which Democrats, and even liberal media observers, condemned ’60 Minutes’ for a distorted story, the show failed to admit its misdeeds or retract the story. Instead, they dug in, downgrading accountability to reading a few random viewer comments.”
In effect, as social media observed, “60 Minutes” used viewer opinion to justify shoddy, even biased reporting.
Here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) April 12, 2021
cbs has heard the criticism of its bullshit hit piece on desantis and decided it’s fine because some people liked it too https://t.co/NgqSRcM0gv
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) April 12, 2021
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) April 12, 2021
This is *at least* the 5th time that CBS News has had to respond to their deceptive segment smearing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis https://t.co/wnYNq41DKD
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 12, 2021
Who is Nick Boryack? I’m not finding anything on the “retired newsman” who praised Alfonsi’s hit piece on DeSantis. https://t.co/Hy71ljwn73
— Cameron Cawthorne (@Cam_Cawthorne) April 12, 2021
“We were able to trick some of our audience, but not everyone. Here are their letters to us…” https://t.co/QQNYaimzds
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) April 12, 2021
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