Ya think? PolitiFact decided to creep up on the obvious yesterday after everyone else but CBS News acknowledged it. That heavily edited video at the heart of the execrable 60 Minutes smear of Ron DeSantis and Publix “could” — just could — be deceptive, PolitiFact concluded:
“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.
As Allahpundit wrote last night in passing in his post about DeSantis, for cripe’s sake. Given PolitiFact’s standing within the journalism industry — it’s run by Poynter Institute — this reluctance to call out the deception is worth a closer look in terms of wagon-circling by the guild. PolitiFact appears to credit CBS News’ claim that this is routine editing for “clarity,” a claim which gets much less credit when made by, say, James O’Keefe and Project Veritas.
The deception in this case is blindingly obvious. The video aired by 60 Minutes shows Sharyn Alfonsi demanding answers from DeSantis in the press conference and DeSantis apparently refusing to provide them. The full video of the presser, however, shows DeSantis providing detailed answers about the Publix partnership, answers edited out of the 60 Minutes segment. Behind the scenes, DeSantis’ office implored 60 Minutes to contact two key Democrats in arranging the partnership — a point never mentioned in the segment.
Interestingly, Poynter’s senior faculty drills down even further into the deception, which goes well beyond the video. Al Tompkins points out that Alfonsi and 60 Minutes never offered any evidence of a corrupt pay-for-play arrangement despite making that allegation. They owe everyone an explanation for how that got on the air, Tompkins tells PolitiFact:
“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.”
In other words, PolitiFact missed the forest for the tree video. The entire segment was a deception. Alfonsi and 60 Minutes set out to build a corruption narrative on DeSantis and Publix, were told it was “bullshit,” and ran it anyway. Now CBS News and 60 Minutes wants to pretend that there’s a story here, and PolitiFact wants to provide at least a modicum of cover for an absurd modified limited hangout.
Not every media outlet is as generous. The editorial board of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, not usually a friend to DeSantis, blasted CBS News in its paper today. When they criticize DeSantis, the editors scold, they make sure to present evidence for their complaints — and don’t omit the truth for convenience:
We never felt the need, however, to leave out critical information that we were aware of, just because it didn’t support our argument. While we always look for ways to illustrate the human impact of governmental decisions, it is never our intention to use emotional quotes and angry rhetoric to bolster an argument that is too weak to stand unsupported.
And we’re Opinion journalists. Our newsrooms around the state — which are operate independently from Opinion — have adhered to the principle that their job is to report news fairly, fully and accurately. When DeSantis has something to say, they report it. When experts weigh in on those plans, we report that too.
We’ve watched the 60 Minutes segment on Florida’s vaccine rollout. We don’t think it meets the standards that should be applied to news coverage — which is what the venerable CBS program holds itself out to be. We don’t think it even clears the bar as responsible opinion.
Florida, and its governor, deserved better.
So did viewers of CBS News and 60 Minutes. And so do readers of PolitiFact.