Brutal. Just brutal. We are covering this story yet again because it represents a full-blown scandal at the highest levels of 'prestige' American journalism. 60 Minutes, with their venerable heritage and many layers of editorial oversight, performed an act of journalistic malpractice so egregious that it could meet the exceptionally high 'actual malice' burden of proof for a public figure to win a defamation suit. I'm not sure Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to pursue that route, but some of his pointed language certainly caught the attention of some media watchers. And for the record, as Charles Cooke notes, the story here is not DeSantis' reaction to the CBS smear job. The story is the CBS smear job. And what makes it so unforgivable is that multiple sources -- including the people who were in the best position to know the facts, from both parties -- all told them their angle on vaccine distribution, Publix, and "pay for play" was bunk. 60 Minutes willfully discarded that information and ran with the lie anyway.
DeSantis has been on a media tour blasting the CBS report and correcting the record, as he should be. It's savvy of him to use the moment not only to bash 60 Minutes, which is fully deserved, but to also highlight Florida's accomplishments on the pandemic while he's at it. You've seen clips from some of his interviews, but I'd encourage you to take the time to watch this press event DeSantis held along with his emergency management chief, a Biden-endorsing Democrat named Jared Moskowitz. Don't let the somewhat lengthy time commitment scare you off:
"Worth every minute," I wrote after watching the clip. "DeSantis just crushes them. At times it borders on factual overkill, but that’s the point. 60 Minutes was *that* wrong, and they *knew* they were wrong. Don’t miss the part where Moskowitz, a Democrat, takes to the podium to verify everything DeSantis asserts." The best part of Moskowitz's bit is how exasperated he seems to be about being forced once again to refute a debunked, crazy conspiracy theory promoted by his own party, which of course includes the news media. He's clearly frustrated that the lies crop up in the first place, so imagine his astonishment at 60 Minutes rolling into town, picking up a discredited lie, being explicitly warned by multiple Democrats that it's not true, then airing it anyway. "I told them that this Publix narrative was malarkey, and they still went with it," he says, mystified.
As for the CBS claim that Publix got an "exclusive" vaccine contract (untrue unto itself) because of a routine political contribution (totally baseless), DeSantis beat that lie into dust using enormous amounts of evidence, then Moskowitz explained how the Publix decision was actually made. It had nothing to do with DeSantis at all, he said. Publix was the only statewide chain prepared to get vaccine operations up and running at the time. "That's it! That's the whole story," Moskowitz practically shouts, clearly peeved that this needs to be said for the umpteenth time. Will 60 Minutes and CBS News continue to stand behind their maliciously and intentionally false, agenda-driven "report"? I'll leave you with this:
You know all about Cuomo. Nothing to see here, either, I guess:
While 60 Min did a hit job implying 100k from Publix led to a non-exclusive FL vaccination contract from DeSantis, they ignored CA’s Newsom giving a company that donated millions to him an exclusive no-bid contract 2 manage CA’s entire vaccination effort: https://t.co/xENGtrca9O— AG (@AGHamilton29) April 6, 2021