Gov. Ron DeSantis Viral Exchange with 60 Minutes ‘Hit Piece’ Over COVID-19 Vaccines Took Place at Eau Gallie High School

By  //  April 6, 2021

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60 Minutes segment aired Sunday night

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Gov. Ron DeSantis’ visit to Melbourne two weeks ago has gained national attention after an exchange he had with a ’60 Minutes’ reporter, who was working on a feature story titled ‘A Fair Shot’ produced by Oriana Zill de Granados.

The press conference was held at Eau Gallie High School on March 22 with BPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Mullins in attendance as Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a $75 million proposal for the creation of ‘Get There Faster’ initiatives for current high school students and those students out of high school.

The program supports workforce training programs, technical schools and work-based opportunities for Florida businesses.

However, the viral exchange with 60 Minutes reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had nothing to do with education rather it was about a report 60 Minutes was working on that described “reports on corruption allegations clouding Florida’s efforts to vaccinate its residents.”

After airing the 13-minute segment Sunday night, backlash came swift from both republicans and democrats for the deceptively edited segment, specifically when Gov. DeSantis was questioned at the press conference by Alfonsi.

The question by the reporter alluded that Gov. DeSantis was prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations in wealthy areas of the state as opposed to areas with lower income.

The questioning specifically targeted Gov. DeSantis’ partnership with Publix for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and claimed it was “pay for play” scenario after they insinuated donations made by Publix Supermarkets to Gov. DeSantis’ super PAC was the catalyst for the governor to grant Publix the contract.

The report conveniently left out that Publix is one of many retail pharmacies that includes vaccination events such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Sam’s Club and Winn Dixie, to name a few.

The segment that aired on national television centered around Palm Beach County.

Gov. DeSantis shot back at the reporter saying allegation is false and county officials wanted to prioritize communities and long term care facilities, since elderly were more susceptible to the virus. He also mentioned that more Floridians had a Publix closer to their residence, than a government facility for a vaccination rollout site.

60 Minutes Segment Aired (Transcript)

Reporter: We wanted to ask Governor DeSantis about the deal, but he declined our request for an interview. We caught up with him south of Orlando.

Reporter: Publix, as you know, donated one hundred thousand dollars to your campaign and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination. So, first of all, what you’re saying is wrong. How was that not paid off?

Gov. DeSantis: That’s a fake narrative. 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.

Reporter: But Melissa Mackinlay, the county commissioner in the glades, told us the governor never met with her about the Publix deal.

Gov. DeSantis: The criticism is that it’s pay to play is wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative and you don’t care about the facts because obviously I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable. I mean, so it’s clearly not, isn’t there?

Full Response by Gov. DeSantis (Not Aired):

“So first of all, what you’re saying is wrong, that’s that’s that’s a fake narrative. So first of all, when we did the the first pharmacies that had it, we’re CBS and Walgreens and they had a long term care mission. So they were going to the long term care facilities. They got vaccine in the middle of December. They started going to the long term care facilities the third week of December to do LTC.

So that was their mission. That was very important. And we trusted them to do that. As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. So, yes, you had the counties, you had some drive-thru sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot. But we wanted to get it into communities more. So we reached out to other retail pharmacies, Publix, Wal-Mart, obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission

And we said we’re going to we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that. For the Publix, they were the first one to raise their hands, say they were ready to go. And you know what? We did it on a trial basis. I had three counties. I actually showed up that weekend and talked to seniors across four different Publix. How was the experience? Is this good? Should you think this is a way to go?

And it was one hundred percent positive. So we expanded it and then folks liked it. And I can tell you, if you look at a place like Palm Beach County, they were kind of struggling at first in terms of the senior numbers. I went 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.

We can do this. They calculated that 90 percent of their seniors live within a mile and a half of a Publix. And they said, we think that would be the easiest thing for our residents. So we did that. And what ended up happening was that sixty five Publix in Palm Beach, Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties we’ve done almost seventy five percent of the seniors in Palm Beach. And the reason is because you have the strong retail footprint.

So our way has been multifaceted. It has worked. And we’re also now very much expanding CVS and Walgreens now that they’ve completed the long term care mission. Yes. And it’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s a fake narrative. I just disabused you of the narrative and you don’t care about the facts because obviously I laid it out for you in a way that is irrefutable. And so it’s clearly not. No, no, no. You’re wrong. You’re wrong.”

The vaccination events across the state at senior living communities, are also a collaboration with the Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management to implement the homebound vaccination program.

Democrat mayor of Palm Beach County and Palm Bay County Commissioner Dave Kerner mentioned 60 Minutes “reporting was not just based on bad information… it was intentionally false.”

After Kerner offered to refute ’60 Minutes’ report via phone call, ’60 Minutes’ declined, according to the mayor.

In fact, the mayor mentions Palm Beach County asked for the Publix relationship, and that CBS knew that but “left it out because it kneecaps their narrative.”

Kerner concluded that the media is “hellbent on dividing us.”

WATCH: Gov. Ron DeSantis Holds Press Conference in Melbourne on MondayRelated Story:
WATCH: Gov. Ron DeSantis Holds Press Conference in Melbourne on Monday

In a statement, Publix called it “irresponsible” on Monday to suggest that the grocery chain’s campaign donation was linked to the vaccine rollout partnership.

The head of Florida’s emergency management agency, Jared Moskowitz, a democrat, called the 60 Minutes report “absolute malarkey” on Sunday.

The head of Florida’s emergency management agency, Jared Moskowitz, a democrat, called the 60 Minutes report “absolute malarkey” on Sunday.

60 Minutes reporter Sharyn Alfonsi continued in the segment with a sit-down interview with Florida Representative Omari Hardy (Democrat-District 88) where she played devil’s advocate to Hardy that a possible reason for the partnership with Publix and the governor was that the privatization would make the rollout more efficient by using private companies for vaccination events, along with government vaccination event sites.

Rep.Hardy responded and criticized the lack of equitable access to the vaccine and claimed the access to the vaccine was disproportionate “to people of color”.

Rep.Hardy responded and criticized the lack of equitable access to the vaccine and claimed the access to the vaccine was disproportionate “to people of color”.

Despite receiving backlash from the report, 60 Minutes and CBS haven’t commented on the aired segment.

ABOVE VIDEO: Here is the entire video segment by 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night.

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