After a week of getting slapped around for a clear hit piece on Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis accusing the executive of a pay-to-play scheme involving COVID-19 vaccine distribution, CBS News' "60 Minutes" finally responded Sunday night.
However, the response was limited to a claim that "some viewers" — including, the show noted, a "retired newsman" — actually "applauded" what was the program's deceptively edited exchange and smear of DeSantis. The short CBS News reaction said "viewers focused" on the edited back-and-forth with the governor, and it failed to address the controversy at the heart of the criticisms.
What's the background?
The long-running news show ran a deceptively edited segment with Gov. DeSantis on April 4, accusing the governor of corruption.
CBS News' Sharyn Alfonsi reported that the governor received a $100,000 donation to his PAC from Publix grocery stores, which later partnered with the state to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. "60 Minutes" aired a clip of Alfonsi confronting DeSantis at a news conference, accusing the governor of engaging in a "pay-to-play" scheme by giving Publix exclusive rights to distribute the vaccine in exchange for the donation.
DeSantis told the reporter she was spreading a "fake narrative" and then corrected the record in an extended answer, which was cut out of the segment by CBS editors before it aired.
The news program's efforts were so egregious that even CNN's Brian Stelter pointed out CBS' malfeasance. And the Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County, Dave Kerner, came out in defense of DeSantis, saying the report "was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false."
What did '60 Minutes' say?
One week later, after taking a beating online — both from the left and the right — "60 Minutes" addressed the controversy ... in a less-than-one-minute segment that appeared to blame viewers who "focused" on the show's deceptive editing.
Sunday's episode ended with Alfonsi addressing her hit piece in a "mail" segment about messages from viewers regarding the anti-DeSantis report.
"Viewers focused on an exchange with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference," Alfonsi began, neglecting to note it was her "exchange" with DeSantis that people were "focused on."
As she reported the messages from viewers, Alfonsi focused first on positive feedback CBS had received, including from a "retired newsman."
"Some viewers, including a retired newsman, applauded the story," Alfonsi said. "Ron DeSantis will continue to deny, refute ... call your reporting a witch hunt ... I can only hope ... that you continue to investigate and expose the truth," she continued, quoting "retired newsman" Nick Boryack of Vero Beach, Florida.
But that's where the glowing reviews of Alfonsi's report ended.
"Many more comments condemned our editing and reporting," Alfonsi said, without saying what the actual problems with the editing and reporting were.
"Shameful biased reporting — that is what you are guilty of. You are no longer journalists, but lobbyists and advocates," one viewer wrote, Alfonsi said.
Anther viewer wrote, "I have watched 60 MINUTES for decades. After you biased piece on Governor DeSantis, I will only watch it one more time. Just to see if you broadcast this message," the reporter said.
And with that, Alfonsi signed off without uttering a word about her role in the controversy, a correction, or any information on what happened.
Sunday’s @60Minutes ended with @Sharyn_Alfonsi reading comments about her shoddy hit piece on @RonDeSantisFL. She d… https://t.co/KtBAd4VpRE— Brent Baker (@Brent Baker) 1618187446.0