Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, a Democrat, accused CBS’ “60 Minutes” of “intentionally false” reporting for suggesting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave grocery store chain Publix preferable treatment to offer the coronavirus vaccine because of donations to his PAC.
“The reporting was not just based on bad information – it was intentionally false,” Kerner said in a statement on Monday. “I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts and ’60 Minutes’ declined. They know that the governor came to Palm Beach County and met with me and the county administrator and we asked to expand the state’s partnership with Publix to Palm Beach County.”
“We have confronted this pandemic for over a year. Our residents, like all Americans, are tired. And the media is making it worse. They are hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks. ’60 Minutes’ should be ashamed,” Kerner continued, adding that the program left his side of the story out because it “kneecaps their narrative.”
Kerner thanked DeSantis for his work to help Palm Beach County.
“Because of his efforts, working in coordination with Palm Beach County officials, over 275,000 seniors in our county – which is over 75% of the total senior population – have been vaccinated. I am proud of how our county and state leadership have executed on this important mission, and the results speak for themselves,” Kerner said.
Publix called the notion that it received special access “absolutely false and offensive.”
“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Gov. DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive. We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic,” a Publix spokesperson told Fox News.
“60 Minutes” journalist Sharyn Alfonsi pointed out that Publix donated $100,000 to the governor’s PAC and said Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay claimed DeSantis “never met with her about the Publix deal.”
“The criticism here is that is pay for play, governor,” Alfonsi told DeSantis.
When reached for comment, CBS News directed Fox News to a tweet sent by Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay who disputed Kerner’s statement. “McKinlay works for Kerner,” a CBS News spokesperson said.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and FOX Business’ Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.