TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back aggressively against a “60 Minutes” report that suggested he initially made a deal to distribute COVID-19 vaccines at Publix Super Markets pharmacies after the company made a donation to his political action committee.
DeSantis Wednesday held a press conference on Wednesday titled “Facts vs. Smears.” He had previously addressed the report Tuesday, calling it a “pile of horse manure.”
Sunday night’s report focused on the vaccine rollout in Palm Beach County and also suggested Florida’s vaccine distribution had generally favored the wealthy and well-connected.
“When you’re talking about this ridiculous smear narrative, it’s important to break down just how false it is, how thoroughly dishonest it is, because this is bad for our country,” DeSantis said of the 60 Minutes piece.
The broadcast ran a 13-minute piece Sunday night criticizing the governor’s role in Florida’s vaccine rollout, focusing on his decision to partner with Publix after the supermarket’s $100,000 donation to his political action committee. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi called it a “game-changing move.”
“There was never a deal. There was never a contract with Publix,” DeSantis added. “It’s like sending vaccine to hospitals. You send it to Jackson – they get it, they distribute it. They can charge Medicare or whatever, but the state wasn’t giving Jackson or Publix any money.”
Florida Emergency Director Jared Moskowitz was also at the news conference with DeSantis and said Florida considered other options to start a pilot program, including Moskowitz’s first choice of Walmart.
“We needed to open up more locations… my first choice was Walmart. I called Walmart first and said listen we have some doses we wanna pilot this, we wanna pilot it specifically in areas that not just have hesitancy but where we see shots slowing down,” he said. “Walmart said ‘great we’d love to partner with you but we can’t start for 21 days.'”
Publix proceeded to tell Moskowitz that they would be able to distributing vaccines within 72 hours.
DeSantis did not take any questions from reporters saying he had to leave for another engagement.
CBS stood by the story and said in a statement that 60 Minutes interviewed dozens of people about the story and requested an interview with DeSantis, who declined.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.