CBS News is standing by its much-maligned 60 Minutes report on Florida’s vaccine rollout, which has prompted backlash from grocery chain Publix, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, conservative media, and some Democrats.
The network has largely come under fire for suggesting that there was a link between Publix’s $100,000 donation to DeSantis and Florida’s partnership with the retailer for vaccine distribution. Publix has since called this an “irresponsible suggestion” and that any connection between campaign contributions and vaccine distribution is “absolutely false and offensive.”
Besides offering no substantive evidence to support that damning claim, CBS only aired an edited portion of DeSantis’ response to one of their reporters at a press conference, resulting in the Republican governor going on a media blitz and accusing the network of “a reckless disregard for the truth.”
In a brief statement on Monday, a CBS spokesperson said 60 Minutes edited DeSantis’ remarks for “clarity,” adding that the program “used the portion of the Governor’s over 2-minute response that directly addressed the question from the correspondent.”
In a lengthier statement on Tuesday, however, the network specifically took issue with Democratic Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, who has called the network’s reporting “intentionally false” and said they declined his offer to provide additional insight on vaccination efforts.
“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,” the network said. “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.”
CBS News added: “The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue. 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.”