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'60 Minutes' defends segment on Florida's vaccine rollout amid criticism

CBS's "60 Minutes" is pushing back on criticism of its investigation of Florida's vaccine roll-out.

A spokesperson for “60 Minutes” said Tuesday that it’s not true that the show’s journalists were unwilling to listen to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis suggests Chauvin jury may have been 'scared of what a mob' would do 34 states considering anti-protest bills introduced by Republicans: report Florida Senate appears unlikely to pass transgender sports bill MORE (R) and State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz for its report examining how vaccines were distributed in the state and whether campaign contributions played a part in decisions.

"We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined,” the spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Hill. “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. The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue.”

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On Sunday, the show aired an extensive report by CBS reporter Sharyn Alfonsi critiquing Florida's vaccine rollout, alleging the effort overlooked low income areas and that DeSantis awarded chain Publix the right to distribute the vaccines because Publix donated money to his political action committee.

Afterwards, DeSantis called CBS "smear merchants” and said the story was a “horse manure” narrative about the coronavirus vaccine rollout in his state.

Other critics, including Dave Kerner, the Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County, Fla., specifically focused on the section of the piece when Alfonsi confronted DeSantis at an event to ask about the role Publix’s campaign donations played in vaccine distribution. Kerner and others claim CBS deliberately edited out DeSantis’s detailed explanation about how the distribution decisions were made.

The video clip of the back and forth between DeSantis and Alfonsi shown in the “60 Minutes” story was shorter than the length of the entire exchange.

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A "60 Minutes" spokesperson said in an earlier defense of the piece that editing video for clarity is something the show always does and that the two minute response directly addressed Alfonsi’s specific question.

“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 spokesperson wrote. “We requested and conducted interviews with dozens of sources and authorities involved.”

“For over 50 years, the facts reported by ‘60 Minutes’ have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions,” the spokesperson added. “Our story Sunday night speaks for itself."