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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The attempted smear of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on this week’s episode of “60 Minutes” is the latest reminder that the once-respected “Fourth Estate” is dying a slow painful death in full public view.  

During their hit piece, “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi concocted a phony narrative about a non-existent “pay for play” scheme involving the state of Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and a $100,000 contribution to Mr. DeSantis’ political action committee. You can almost see the brainstorming session in some “60 Minutes” boardroom with global elites discussing how to “get” the Republican governor and possible 2024 presidential contender who represents a real threat to the damaging coronavirus lockdown policies of the left.  


Just like a political operative, Ms. Alfonsi didn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. She failed to speak with key officials in Florida — after being offered interviews — who would have handed her enough exculpatory information to kill the tale she was weaving in its cradle. Even prominent Democrats in Florida felt the need to issue statements to set the record straight. The Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County went as far to say that the reporting was “intentionally false.”  

“60 Minutes” also selectively edited Mr. DeSantis’ straightforward and commonsense explanation that thoroughly debunked the trumped-up charges. A spokesperson for “60 Minutes” said that they regularly edit footage for “clarity,” but in this case, the editing was obviously done for another reason — to hurt a young conservative governor with a bright future who’s doing a good job for his people.  

Unfortunately, this disgraceful chapter is nothing new for CBS News. In the lead up to the 2004 presidential election, “60 Minutes Wednesday” and longtime CBS News anchor Dan Rather ran a report questioning President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. The story — seen by millions — relied on unverified records that turned out to be fake and four top CBS News employees were subsequently fired. About two months after the controversy erupted, Mr. Rather announced that he would be stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News. 

Almost 20 years later, it’s hard to tell the difference between a biased news corporation and a Democratic Super PAC. The American people see this for what it is and know all too well that facts matter and operatives with political agendas cloaked as journalists are dangerous. In his defense, Mr. DeSantis was right to point out that “60 Minutes” went after him “just because I’m in the other party” while Democratic politicians like President Biden and Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom in blue states get treated like untouchable royalty by their fawning allies in the corporate media.

The unethical treatment of Mr. DeSantis compared with the kid-gloves treatment of President Biden and other Democrats is a glowing example of the obvious double standard in the mainstream media and a central reason why these prime-time “bombshells” don’t carry anywhere near the massive weight they once did.  

For instance, when can we expect to see an explosive story from the mainstream media exposing Mr. Biden’s alleged pay-for-play scheme involving contributions from teacher unions in exchange for slow walking the re-opening of our schools? There’s a Pulitzer Prize there for the taking, but don’t hold your breath.  

The “60 Minutes” report being scrutinized was immediately seen as contrived across the political spectrum, which made the boomerang effect all the more sudden. You know the situation isn’t going well when even CNN publishes headlines like “‘60 Minutes’ faces backlash from Democrats and Publix for critical story on Florida’s vaccine rollout.”

Mr. DeSantis’ office issued a statement in response to the left’s latest corporate funded political attack that set the record straight: “Florida’s decision to utilize Publix early on helped vaccinate thousands of people who may not have otherwise had access. This was one of the most effective ways to get shots in arms. Not utilizing this partnership with Publix as soon as possible would have been malpractice …”

So, in the final analysis, why did the state of Florida really choose Publix? Because it made sense for Florida’s seniors — and the data supports that. It’s not a very sexy narrative, but it’s the truth and it’s one of the reasons why Mr. DeSantis is leading the way in the fight again COVID-19 and why bad actors in the biased media fear him. The whole episode reeks of a desperate political hit job designed to slow Mr. DeSantis’ rise in American politics.

Sixteen years ago, credibility was still important to the mainstream media, so we’ll see if CBS News admits its mistake and takes appropriate action. At the end of the day, journalists make lousy political operatives and as the lines continue to be blurred, the American people and the truth will continue to suffer. In the meantime, Mr. DeSantis should keep up his policy of fighting to end COVID-19 in Florida while defending our liberty at the same time.  

• David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and he served as deputy campaign manager for Donald J. Trump for President.


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