Palm Beach Mayor Dave Kerner, a Democrat, backed Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) following the deceptively edited 60 Minutes segment accusing the Republican governor of malfeasance in regards to the state partnering with Publix to administer vaccines across the state, deeming the report “intentionally false” and accusing the media of being “hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks.”
Kerner said the 60 Minutes segment on Palm Beach County compelled him to issue a statement, as the reporting was “not just based on bad information” but “intentionally false.” The Democrat mayor said he knows this to be true firsthand, as he offered to provide insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts. However, the show reportedly declined the offer.
“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,” Kerner said, explaining that they “also discussed our own local plans to expand mass vaccinations centers throughout the county, [of] which the Governor has been incredibly supportive.”
“We asked and he delivered. They had that information, and they left it out because it kneecaps their narrative,” he said, blasting the media for making the pandemic even “worse.”
“They are hellbent on dividing us for cheap views and clicks. 60 Minutes should be ashamed,” he continued, thanking DeSantis for supporting residents of his county.
“Because of his efforts, working in coordination with Palm Beach County officials, over 275,000 seniors in our county — which is over 75 percent of the total senior population — have been vaccinated,” Kerner said.
“I am proud of how our county and state leadership have executed on this important mission, and the results speak for themselves,” he added.
Kerner’s defense follows a 60 Minutes segment featuring an incomplete back and forth between DeSantis and 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.
“Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign, and then you rewarded them with the exclusive rights to distribute the vaccination in Palm Beach,” Alfonsi told the governor, asking “how is that not pay-to-play?”
CBS News only aired a snippet of DeSantis’s entire answer, making it look as if the Republican governor dodged the question, which was not the case. In reality, DeSantis addressed the “fake narrative” and explained the process, detailing other pharmacies involved in the vaccination efforts and the decision-making process that went into the decisions. Nevertheless, the show did not air his entire answer:
That’s a fake narrative. So, first of all, when we did, the first pharmacies that had it were CVS and Walgreens. And they had a long-term care mission. So, they were going to the long-term care facilities. They got the vaccine in the middle of December; they started going to the long-term care facilities the third week of December to do LTCs. So, that was their mission. That was very important. And we trusted them to do that.
As we got into January, we wanted to expand the distribution points. So yes, you had the counties, you had some drive through sites, you had hospitals that were doing a lot, but we wanted to get it into communities more. So we reached out to other retail pharmacies — Publix, Walmart — obviously CVS and Walgreens had to finish that mission. And we said, we’re going to use you as soon as you’re done with that.
For Publix, they were the first one to raise their hand, say they were ready to go. And you know what, we did it on a trial basis. I had three counties. I actually showed up that weekend and talked to seniors across four different Publix. How was the experience? Is this good? Should you think this is a way to go? And it was 100% positive. So we expanded it, and then folks liked it. And I can tell you, if you look at a place like Palm Beach County, they were kind of struggling at first in terms of the senior numbers. I went, I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator.
I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County, and I said, “Here’s some of the options: we can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix, we can do this.” They calculated that 90% of their seniors live within a mile and a half of a Publix. And they said, “We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.” So, we did that, and what ended up happening was, you had 65 Publix in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the biggest counties, one of the most elderly counties; we’ve done almost 75% of the seniors in Palm Beach, and the reason is because you have the strong retail footprint. So our way has been multifaceted. It has worked. And we’re also now very much expanding CVS and Walgreens, now that they’ve completed the long term care mission.
Publix also released a statement Monday morning, countering the left’s narrative.
“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” the grocery chain said:
— Publix (@Publix) April 5, 2021