Source: Ryan Saavedra
CBS’s “60 Minutes” deceptively edited an exchange that reporter Sharyn Alfonsi had with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) two weeks ago about the way the Sunshine State has rolled out its vaccination program.
In the clip, Alfonsi suggested that Publix, the largest grocery store chain in Florida, had engaged in a pay-to-play scheme with DeSantis where they donated money to his campaign in exchange for him awarding a contract to the grocery store chain to host vaccinations.
CBS edited the interaction between DeSantis and Alfonsi when she showed up to a press conference a few weeks ago and repeatedly confronted the governor. The network cut out a lengthy portion of DeSantis’ response in which he explains what happened and how decisions were made.
Transcript of the interaction is featured below (All words appearing in bold were cut out by CBS News):
Sharyn Alfonsi: Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach—
Ron DeSantis: So, first of all, that — what you’re saying is wrong. That’s—
Sharyn Alfonsi: How is that not pay-to-play?
Ron DeSantis: —that, that’s a fake narrative. So, first of all, when we did, the first pharmacies that had it were CVS and Walgreens. And they had a long-term care mission. So they were going to the long-term care facilities. They got the vaccine in the middle of December, they started going to the long-term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs. 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-through 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, Walmart — obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission. And we said, we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that. For Publix, they were the first one to raise their hand, 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 100% 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 in 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% 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, you had 65 Publix in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties, we’ve done almost 75% 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.
Sharyn Alfonsi: The criticism is that it’s pay-to-play, governor.
Ron DeSantis: 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.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, I— I was just—
Ron DeSantis: And, so, it’s clearly not.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Isn’t there the nearest Publix —
Ron DeSantis: No, no, no. You’re wrong.
Sharyn Alfonsi: —30 miles away.
Ron DeSantis: You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Yes, sir?
Sharyn Alfonsi: That’s actually a fact.