Florida Gov. DeSantis warns of 'consequences' following '60 Minutes' COVID vaccine segment

Tony Mixon
The News Herald

PANAMA CITY — Gov. Ron DeSantis declared Tuesday that conservatives couldn’t trust corporate media and that there would be “consequences” in reference to a recent "60 Minutes" news segment on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Florida. 

Near the end of a press conference in Panama City meant to tout new recovery aid for 2018’s Hurricane Michael that blasted the area, DeSantis ripped into the Sunday news segment, saying it was full of lies pushed by corporate media.

It was DeSantis’ first time to speak publicly on the report, which took an in-depth look at questions of favoritism and highlighted how the governor’s campaign donors were involved in the vaccine rollout. 

In the spotlight:‘60 Minutes’ segment on Florida’s COVID vaccine rollout spotlights claims of DeSantis favoring wealthy

In other coverage:DeSantis says  COVID vaccine could be available to all Florida residents in April

Also:Variants, vaccinations surge across US; Florida, Nevada among 12 states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults: Live COVID-19 updates

DeSantis made vague warnings to the media about the segment, which led to a round of applause from those at the press conference.  

“Well, guess what, there’s going to be consequences for that,” DeSantis said of what he described as lies from the "60 Minutes" segment. “I know corporate media thinks they can just run over people. … You ain’t running over this governor. I’m punching back. This is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”

Since the segment aired, DeSantis has issued a series of press releases to denounce it, particularly a portion that focused on a $100,000 donation Florida-based grocery chain Publix made to the governor’s campaign before it was picked to help distribute the vaccine. 

“The message is for people out there, unless you’re a partisan leftist, do not trust corporate media,” DeSantis said at the press conference. “You can’t trust them. They’re not trustworthy.”

Also since the segment aired, the Democratic director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County both publicly responded that partnering with Publix was not suggested by anyone from DeSantis' office.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks during a press conference Tuesday at the Bay County Government Center. Joining DeSantis were state Rep. Jay Trumbull, left, and Dane Eagle, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“They cut out everything that showed their narrative was a piece of horse manure. It showed how dishonest … these are smear merchants,” DeSantis said of the segment. “It would have been malpractice to cut Publix out of assisting. What they’re saying is a total crock that only Publix was getting this. It’s nonsense. We told them it was that and they cut it out, they spliced it because they can’t handle the truth.”

DeSantis said Florida has vaccinated 3.5 million senior citizens and that the state was the first one to put seniors first. He said the efforts have made seniors less likely to be hospitalized compared to six months ago.

Bay County Commissioner Philip Griffitts, who attended the press conference, said the governor has handled the situation with "60 Minutes" well.

"He gave us a clear explanation,” Griffitts said. "I think we know the news was slighted at '60 Minutes' and they tried to paint a picture of him, a pay-to-play type scheme. I think Gov. DeSantis has done a fantastic job, considering the challenges he's faced."

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