PolitiFact: ’60 Minutes’ DeSantis video may be ‘deceptive editing’

The video of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that “60 Minutes” used in its Sunday piece about Florida’s vaccination rollout could be considered deceptively edited, PolitiFact wrote Wednesday.

“The ’60 Minutes’ segment omitted some of the background on why Florida partnered with Publix to distribute coronavirus vaccines,” PolitiFact’s Daniel Funke wrote in an examination of the controversy. “That omission could constitute ‘deceptive editing,’ as some social media users have claimed.” 

The story, reported by CBS’s Sharyn Alfonsi, was an extensive critique of how coronavirus vaccines were distributed in Florida and highlighted how difficult it was for some people in at least one low-income area to get the vaccine.  

But the most talked-about portion of the segment was the allegation that campaign donations from the Publix grocery store chain influenced DeSantis’s decision to have vaccines distributed through the company’s pharmacies.

It was this specific claim, and the video clip “60 Minutes” used of Alfonsi confronting DeSantis about his ties to Publix, that has forced the show to defend the piece

DeSantis and others, including the Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County, Dave Kerner, have claimed that “60 Minutes” purposely edited out DeSantis’s detailed explanation of the decisions behind where and when vaccines were distributed. 

And in its detailed breakdown of the story, PolitiFact agreed that “60 Minutes” did leave out significant portions of the DeSantis interaction with Alfonsi.

“DeSantis’ full response to Alfonsi’s questions took about three minutes,” PolitiFact wrote. “While ‘60 Minutes’ focused on his emphatic denial, it left out the background that he offered about how the state had been working with other retail pharmacies to distribute coronavirus vaccines at long-term care facilities in December and his own interactions with Publix customers.”

A spokesman for “60 Minutes” declined to comment on the PolitiFact article and instead defended the piece against more detailed charges of deception DeSantis leveled in a press conference Wednesday.

The list of vaccine sites DeSantis listed in that presser “were not available to most seniors in Palm Beach County in January and part of February,” the “60 Minutes” spokesman said in an emailed statement. “The majority of Palm Beach County seniors still needed to go to Publix for their doses, which was the focus of our story of the pharmacy program roll-out.”

Although CBS did edit out DeSantis’s comments about CVS and Walgreens, those companies were working with nursing homes, and were not providing vaccines to the general public, the spokesman said.

“For this reason, the Governor’s comments about CVS and Walgreens were not included in the original broadcast,” he added.

Still, in its critique, PolitiFact said that by leaving out DeSantis’ original explanation, the “60 Minutes” story can qualify as “deceptive editing” under a definition used by The Washington Post, which says “editing out large portions from a video and presenting it as a complete narrative … is a technique used to skew reality.”

PolitiFact ended the fact check by quoting Al Tompkins, a media commentator and senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, which owns PolitiFact.

“In the story, there was a direct line between the campaign contribution and the rewarding,” Tompkins said. “And they never proved that. I think they owe it to everybody — they owe it to the governor, they owe it to Publix, they owe it to the public — to explain to us how they came to that conclusion.”

“While it made for interesting television it didn’t make for complete truth,” he added. 

-Updated 12:24 p.m.

Tags 60 Minutes coronavirus vaccine Florida PolitiFact Publix Ron DeSantis

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