Worth the time if you can spare it. This is the latest maneuver in the media counteroffensive DeSantis launched after the “60 Minutes” hit piece this weekend, which took him to Tucker Carlson’s show, then to short remarks before the media, and finally to today’s extended presser with Florida’s emergency management director, Democrat Jared Moskowitz. He came with receipts this time, as you’ll see. One of the damning insinuations of the “60 Minutes” segment was that Publix’s $100,000 donation to DeSantis somehow bought them “exclusive” rights to distribute the vaccine in Florida. But there was nothing exclusive about it, as DeSantis demonstrates with example after example. So what did Publix supposedly purchase with its donation?
Moskowitz’s contribution is similarly straightforward. We’ve partnered with every institution we can think of in the name of getting vaccines distributed more efficiently, he says, particularly to communities that are harder to reach. That means schools, churches, activist groups, any and all comers. And of course it means the big supermarket and pharmacy chains, which can get the product out to millions. He says his first choice was Walmart but they told him it would take three weeks before they’d be ready to dish out doses. Then he called Publix and was told it’d take three *days.* Thus was the choice made. Nothing more to it than that.
And that’s not some new revelation by Moskowitz. He was tweeting about it more than a month ago, notes the WSJ’s James Freeman. Even if CBS couldn’t land him for an on-camera interview before their segment aired (why would they want a segment to air without all the relevant facts in the first place?), what’s their excuse for not featuring at least the tweeted version of Moskowitz’s account?
This morning Reason’s Robby Soave noted the deafening silence of major media fact-checkers about the dubious “60 Minutes” segment. CBS threw an explosive charge at DeSantis that he had turned his state’s vaccination program into a pay-for-play scam with nothing to support it except the fact that Publix has donated to him in the past. CNN’s media bureau wrote about it, as did Poynter, but the other watchdog reporters have been quiet as of this writing presumably because they’ve concluded CBS’s heart was in the right place in wanting to smear a rising Republican politician.
Politifact finally got around to addressing the controversy this afternoon, specifically the way CBS bowdlerized the video of DeSantis’s answer when a “60 Minutes” reporter asked him to explain himself. But, curiously, Politifact itself offered no independent judgment of whether the video that aired was deceptively edited or not. Somehow they couldn’t form a conclusion about it.
“Deceptive editing” means a clip “has been edited and rearranged,” according to the Washington Post’s guide to manipulated video. Deceptive editing can include omission (“editing out large portions from a video and presenting it as a complete narrative” to “skew reality”) and splicing (“editing together disparate videos (that) fundamentally alters the story that is being told”).
By omitting DeSantis’ remarks on why the state partnered with Publix to distribute vaccines in Palm Beach County, the “60 Minutes” clip could fall into the former category.
“In the story, there was a direct line between the campaign contribution and the rewarding. And they never proved that,” said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school that owns PolitiFact. “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.”
A CBS News spokesperson told PolitiFact the comments were edited for clarity, a common journalistic practice.
It ”could” be described as deceptively edited? For cripes sake. No wonder this guy is holding press conferences to correct the record. Twenty-five minutes here, but as I say, it’s worth it.