Another Florida Democrat has crossed party lines to slam a “60 Minutes” report suggesting that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis engaged in a pay-to-play scheme with supermarket chain Publix over distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jared Moskowitz — who now serves as head of the Sunshine State’s Division of Emergency Management following a stint as a Democratic representative in the state legislature — spoke out on Twitter about the segment that aired on Sunday.
“@60Minutes I said this before and I’ll say it again. @Publix was recommended by @FLSERT and @HealthyFla as the other pharmacies were not ready to start. Period! Full Stop!” wrote Moskowitz, using the Twitter handles for the agency he heads and the Florida Department of Health. “No one from the Governors office suggested Publix. It’s just absolute malarkey.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens to a speaker at a news conference.Sipa USA via AP
The “60 Minutes” segment suggested that DeSantis favored Publix stores to handle vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County because the chain had donated to his PAC.
The segment has faced sharp scrutiny in part because a clip in which DeSantis addressed the alleged impropriety in response to a “60 Minutes” correspondent’s questions was heavily edited to remove much of his explanation.
Another Democrat, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, has also defended DeSantis — a possible contender for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination — by claiming that the report was based on an “intentionally false” narrative.
“The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false,” said Kerner in a statement released Monday. “I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and ’60 Minutes’ declined.
Gustavo Godoy has his 3½-month-old child in a car seat as he receives a COVID-19 shot in a former Sears store at the Lake Square Mall.Sipa USA via AP
“Our residents, like all Americans, are tired,” he continued. “And the media is making it worse. They are hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks. ’60 Minutes’ should be ashamed.”
A spokesperson for CBS, which airs “60 Minutes,” previously defended the editing of the segment in a statement to The Post.
“As we always do for clarity, 60 MINUTES used the portion of the Governor’s over 2-minute response that directly addressed the question from the correspondent,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, DeSantis himself went on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Monday to offer his own thoughts on his pandemic response and the piece.
People walking in and out at a FEMA COVID-19 vaccination site at the Northwest Community Center.SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
“What we have done has worked, and they didn’t want to discuss that, obviously they selectively edited the background,” DeSantis said. “They tried to act like there was a conspiracy with Publix, ignoring the fact that other pharmacies were involved before Publix, doing [vaccination in] all our long-term care facilities.”
DeSantis went on to say that the use of Publix stores as a vaccination hub was designed to prioritize efficient inoculation.
“Palm Beach calculated [that] 90 percent of their seniors live within a mile-and-a-half of a Publix,” he said. “So when we put it in there, their [vaccination] numbers started going through the roof.”
The governor claimed that “60 Minutes” willfully ignored that and other facts in producing the segment, instead premising it on “a baseless conspiracy theory that was easily debunked.”
Kory Whitacre receives a COVID-19 shot in a former Sears store at the Lake Square Mall.SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
“It didn’t fit the narrative,” claimed DeSantis. “They don’t believe in facts. It was a political narrative. It was done with malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth.
“They would not talk to the people who were most relevant to this, because they know those key Democrats — Jared Moskowitz, Mayor Dave Kerner — would blow up their narrative,” he said. “So they just put their head in the sand and pretended like those facts didn’t exist.”