CBS, ’60 Minutes’ Continue To Defend Segment On DeSantis With Lengthy Statement, Declares The ‘Story … Speaks For Itself’

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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CBS News and its show “60 Minutes” issued a new, lengthier statement Tuesday following backlash over its reporting that suggested Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chose Publix to partner with or the vaccine rollout due to donations the company made to his political committee.

The Sunday report focused on the fact that residents living in one of the poorest parts of Palm Beach County had to travel for the vaccine, as the Florida-based supermarket chain isn’t located in the area, while wealthier communities allegedly had easier access to it. “60 Minutes” suggested that a $100,000 donation Publix made to DeSantis’ political committee correlated with it being chosen for distribution rights for Palm Beach County.

Critics quickly tore into the “60 Minutes” story, noting that it left various important points out of the report. The segment cut out a large chunk of DeSantis’ explanation on why Publix was chosen, didn’t highlight that the super market made donations to Democrats and more. (RELATED:  ’60 Minutes’ Flamed Over ‘Hit Job’ Against Gov. DeSantis, Publix On Vaccine Distribution)

“60 Minutes” issued a brief statement Monday that only addressed its shortened clip of DeSantis – the show told the Daily Caller that it had edited his answer “for clarity.” After continued backlash, CBS News and “60 Minutes” issued a more comprehensive statement Tuesday afternoon standing by its reporting.

“When Florida state data revealed people of color were vaccinated at a much lower rate than their wealthier neighbors, 60 MINUTES reported the facts surrounding the vaccine’s rollout, which is controlled by the governor,” CBS News and “60 Minutes” said in its latest statement to the Caller. “We requested and conducted interviews with dozens of sources and authorities involved.  We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; We spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline.”

The new statement also pushed back on allegations from Democrats in Florida – who decried the segment – alleging that the show opted not to show their view. Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner, for one, said Monday that the report “was intentionally false” and said “60 Minutes” “declined” his offer “to provide … insight into” the county’s vaccination efforts.

“The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue,” a CBS News/”60 Minutes” spokesperson said. “Counter to his statement yesterday, we also spoke on the record with Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner. For over 50 years, the facts reported by 60 MINUTES have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions.  Our story Sunday night speaks for itself.”

CBS News’ latest statement comes after fierce bipartisan pushback on its segment. CNN political contributor Amanda Carpenter noted that Publix’s campaign contributions to DeSantis “are not that significant” and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the report a “hit job.”

DeSantis spoke to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday evening and said the reporting was “a political narrative” and “a baseless conspiracy theory.”