New emails from the camp of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) handed to Fox News underline the shady way the CBS 60 Minutes team operated before their Sunday night hatchet job suggesting (without actual connecting evidence) that DeSantis engaged in a “pay to play” scheme with the Publix supermarket chain on vaccine distribution.
On March 31, the Wednesday before the show, 60 Minutes associate producer Emily Gordon sent a list of questions to DeSantis staffer Meredith Beatrice with a deadline set for Thursday at 5 p.m. Beatrice asked for more time. The next morning, the segment’s top producer Oriana Zill de Granados confirmed to Beatrice that the report on DeSantis would air on Sunday and wrote: “Please send us your responses when you are able.”
Why the rush? We noted when CBS had aired the same DeSantis-Publix conspiracy theory on CBS This Morning Saturday back on February 20, but that has a much smaller audience (and less prestige) than 60 Minutes. That prestige ought to come from professionalism, but it’s more about who CBS chooses to punish.
Beatrice then requested they interview Jared Moskowitz, the Democrat who runs the state’s emergency management agency, who she said was available that day and Friday to do an interview either in a studio or by Skype. This is where it gets weird. Somehow the deadline for a Sunday night show is….Thursday afternoon?
The “60 Minutes” producer replied that they had requested an on-the-record interview with Moskowitz “repeatedly” since February and claimed that he had not responded to messages since mid-March.
DeSantis’ office stressed that it was “important” for CBS News to interview Moskowitz and Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner, who Zill de Granados said was not responsive to inquiries.
“Thank you for your input. Unfortunately, the deadline has passed,” Zill de Granados told Beatrice on Thursday afternoon. “As you may know, the Covid pandemic makes our interview protocol much more complicated and time-consuming due to new distancing and testing requirements for correspondents and camera crews.”
However, that standard appeared not to apply to Florida State Rep. Omari Hardy, a DeSantis critic who “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi interviewed remotely.
Does anyone think if new dirt on DeSantis emerged on Saturday, CBS would have said “too late, can’t include it”?
Moskowitz, for some reason, had talked to CBS but refused to do it on camera. That doesn’t mean what he told them off-camera couldn’t be included!
“I did speak with @60Minutes. Never said I didn’t,” Moskowitz tweeted. “They were very nice, but I told them that the @publix story was ‘bulls—‘. Walked them through the whole process.
“The fact that I didn’t sit down on ‘camera’ because I am responding to a 100 year emergency doesn’t change the truth,” he added. The Federalist noted he had even tweeted about the false narrative a month before the CBS segment aired.
Even the CNN “Reliable Sources” newsletter included liberal-elite criticism of CBS:
— Tom Jones says “60 Minutes” missed “the mark” in its story about Florida’s vaccine rollout. Jones pointed out that the program suggested a pay-to-play scheme between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Publix, but failed to provide the evidence. “There was really no there there…” (Poynter)
— Ben Smith [New York Times media columnist] on CBS standing by the story: “Broadcast TV remains worse than anyone else at just quickly admitting when they screwed up…” (Twitter)