‘Absolutely false and offensive’: Publix slams CBS ‘60 Minutes’ segment on COVID vaccine rollout in Florida

CBS’s “60 Minutes” is receiving backlash after airing a segment Sunday night about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis‘s vaccine distribution partnership with Publix grocery stores.

The segment revealed that the Governor partnered with Publix grocery stores, the largest grocery store chain in the state, to distribute vaccines after they donated a total of $100,000 to his political action committee in the weeks leading up to the deal’s announcement. The segment also suggested that DeSantis directed vaccines towards wealthy communities, with Florida’s poorer communities being left behind.

However, Publix slammed the “60 Minutes” segment in a statement, calling the accusation “absolutely false and offensive.”

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” Publix said. “We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic.”

Former Democratic Florida State Representative Jared Moskowitz said the allegations that there was a connection between the supermarket’s campaign contributions and the partnership to administer vaccines was “absolute malarkey.”

“@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by [FL Division of Emergency Management] and [Florida Dept. Health] as the other pharmacies were not ready to start,” Moskowitz tweeted. “Period! Full Stop! No one from the Governor[‘]s office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey,” Moskowitz tweeted.

“60 Minutes” also aired footage of reporter Sharyn Alfonsi confronting DeSantis at a press conference last month over the donation report.

“Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign,” Alfonsi began in the clip. “And then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach –“

“First, of all what you’re saying is wrong,” DeSantis replied.

“How is that not pay for play?” Alfonsi then asked.

“That’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis 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-thru 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.”

The Daily Wire reported that “60 Minutes” “deceptively edited the interaction to remove nearly the entire portion” of DeSantis’ response to Alfonsi’s accusation.

A.G. Hamilton also noted that “60 Minutes” cut out “several minutes” of DeSantis’s response where he talks about meeting with other retail pharmacies but Publix was the “first one to raise their hand.”

OANN’s Jack Posobiec called out “60 Minutes” for their biased reporting on political donations.

“If you are mad about Publix donating $100G to Ron DeSantis wait till you hear about Big Pharma,” Posobiec tweeted.

“A Publix heir personally donated 100k to DeSantis. Big Pharma donated millions to Joe Biden and tens of millions more to Congress. You won’t see this on @60Minutes,” Posobiec continued.

“60 Minutes has it completely backwards. It would have been a scandal if DeSantis refused to work with Publix which is the most common supermarket found in Florida (the state with the most seniors). Not the other way around.”

“60 Minutes” has yet to comment on the edited exchange.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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