It’s been a rough few days for CBS News after the network was accused of liberal activism, lobbing softballs at the president’s son and airing a widely condemned “60 Minutes” report on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., all in less than a week.
Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany took the network to task with a tweet Wednesday that summed up the “revealing few days” for CBS News.
“NOT good,” she wrote.
The criticism began Friday when CBS News drew sharp reactions over a report that critics called full-throated Democratic activism.
In a piece first titled, “3 ways companies can help fight Georgia‘s restrictive new voting law,” CBS Money Watch reporter Khristopher J. Brooks appeared to offer advice on how corporations can put political pressure on Georgia Republicans, who had just enshrined sweeping election law changes.
On Friday night, CBS News shared the article on social media, which sparked an intense backlash. The tweet has since been taken down as of Saturday.
“LOL this tweet is outright partisan advocacy,” Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy reacted.
CBS also appeared to update its headline, which on Saturday read: “Activists are calling on big companies to challenge new voting laws. Here’s what they’re asking for.”
“CBS Sunday Morning” then aired an interview with Hunter Biden that many critics felt went too easy on the president’s son. During the interview, Biden admitted that when he was addicted to crack cocaine, he smoked parmesan cheese because it resembled the drug.
While the cheese tidbit made headlines, correspondent Tracy Smith allowed the president’s son to declare he didn’t know if the infamous laptop at the center of last fall’s bombshell New York Post story belonged to him.
By Sunday evening, the other two issues were small potatoes when “60 Minutes” aired a segment that has been criticized by Democratic state officials, liberal media members, conservative pundits, Publix and DeSantis himself.
The report by Sharyn Alfonsi suggested DeSantis gave Publix preferential treatment to distribute COVID-19 vaccines because the chain donated $100,000 to the governor’s political action committee. However, the notion has been widely dismissed.
“If that is true — if DeSantis ran a ‘pay-for-play’ scheme involving vaccinations for the coronavirus — that’s an explosive story. But ‘60 Minutes’ really didn’t deliver substantial evidence that DeSantis did any such thing,” Poynter’s senior media writer Tom Jones wrote.
CBS News has stood by the story but left pay-for-play allegations out of the statement issued by a “60 Minutes” spokesperson, instead focusing on two Democrats who defended DeSantis.
“When Florida state data revealed people of color were vaccinated at a much lower rate than their wealthier neighbors, ‘60 Minutes’ reported the facts surrounding the vaccine’s rollout, which is controlled by the governor. We requested and conducted interviews with dozens of sources and authorities involved. We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; We spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline. The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue,” A CBS News spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News.
“Counter to his statement yesterday, we also spoke on the record with Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner. For over 50 years, the facts reported by 60 MINUTES have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions,” the CBS News spokesperson continued. “Our story Sunday night speaks for itself.”
Moskowitz and Kerner, both Democrats, spoke out against “60 Minutes” after the story aired.
When asked why a defense of pay-to-play allegations from the “60 Minutes” report wasn’t in the statement, a CBS News spokesperson told Fox News the newsmagazine program simply repeated claims that have already been made in local Florida newspapers and declined additional comment.
Publix called the notion that it received special access “absolutely false and offensive.”
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor blasted CBS over the segment.
“This wasn’t just run-of-the-mill awful journalism. This was a deliberate ‘60 Minutes’ hit job on a presumptive GOP 2024 presidential candidate. A once-famous name in news served as a proxy for the Democrat Party. It’s the kind of ‘news’ you would have seen on Pravda in the old Soviet Union and it’s completely inexcusable,” Gainor told Fox News.
“CBS News needs to get some actual journalists involved here. They need to run an across-the-board apology leading each of their newscasts and the next edition of ‘60 Minutes.’ The apology needs to be detailed and explain how the network manipulated facts and the interview to produce a lie,” Gainor added. “Until they do, no conservative should respond to a CBS interview.”
Fox News’ Joesph A. Wulfsohn, Nikolas Lanum, and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.