During the April 2 edition of CBS’ 60 Minutes, anchor Lesley Stahl interviewed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and failed to cover some of the key conspiracy theories that catapulted Greene’s political career, ignoring or papering over dangerous rhetoric and failing to adequately press her baseless assertion that Democrats are “a party of pedophiles.”
The widely panned segment was not the first time CBS has faced blowback for a softball interview with an extremist politician. During the 2022 midterm election, CBS gave a disastrous interview to right-wing Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem. After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Stahl gave him an opportunity to whitewash his extreme campaign promises and paint himself as a reasonable politician.
On social media, even colleagues and those who have respect for Stahl criticized the substance of the interview. American Enterprise Institute emeritus scholar Norman Ornstein tweeted, “I have known Lesley Stahl for more than forty years, worked alongside her for many election weeks. She has been a great journalist, but this is a disgraceful, cringeworthy performance. Shameful to the max.” And now less than 24 hours after 60 Minutes lent its national platform to her, Greene is already back to spouting baseless conspiracy theories on social media.
Stahl failed to adequately debunk Greene’s smear that Democrats are “a party of pedophiles” and let her backtrack on false claims about mass shootings
Stahl gave limited pushback to Greene’s inflammatory assertion that Democrats are “a party of pedophiles” who “support grooming children,” saying, “They are not pedophiles, why would you say that?” After Greene doubled down and further claimed that Democrats and President Joe Biden support “children being sexualized and having transgender surgeries,” Stahl merely responded, “Wow, OK,” and moved to her next question. (Greene has since repeated that rhetoric in a tweet: “I’ll say it again: Democrats are the party of pedophiles.“)
During the interview, Stahl did push back on Greene’s denial on her position that the Parkland school shooting was a “false flag.” After Greene said, “No I never said that. School shootings are horrible, I don’t think it’s anything to joke about,” 60 Minutes showed Greene saying “exactly” to a Facebook post calling the shooting a “false flag planned shooting,” and Stahl said, “We fact-checked before I got to this interview." However, Stahl failed to identify this as one data point in a much larger pattern that Media Matters and news outlets have extensively documented: Greene has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories about mass shootings, including endorsing a social media post calling the Sandy Hook shooting staged. Stahl also only briefly mentioned Greene’s harassment of Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg.
Stahl glossed over Greene’s recent controversial comments about a “national divorce” and her attacks on Paul Pelosi
In February, Greene called for a “national divorce” between blue and red states. The plan was compared to secession, and observers noted that such a step would have a devastating impact on basic civil rights. According to HuffPost, “red states could temporarily strip Americans who move from blue states of the right to vote and could implement laws to openly discriminate against LGBTQ people.”
60 Minutes’ only reference to Greene’s “national divorce” controversy came in a brief voiceover at the beginning of the interview, when Stahl briefly alluded to the plan, saying that Greene had “gained her national celebrity, some say notoriety, with a sharp tongue and some pretty radical views, like her proposal for a national divorce where red and blue states would go their separate ways.” Stahl did not expand on Greene’s plan, nor question Greene about it.
During the interview, Stahl questioned Greene about liking a 2019 Facebook post from a user who suggested they wanted to put a bullet through then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's head. After Greene rejected responsibility for liking the post, Stahl moved on without mentioning that Greene also made headlines in November for spreading cruel conspiracy theories about the former speaker’s husband, Paul Pelosi, after he was brutally beaten in their home.
Stahl failed to ask about Greene’s history pushing 9/11 conspiracy theories, threatening colleagues, attempting to overturn the 2020 election, and associating with white supremacists
During the interview, Stahl failed to ask Greene about several other unhinged conspiracy theories that she has shared and her association with extremists.
In 2018, Greene agreed with a Facebook commenter who claimed that 9/11 “was done by our own gov[ernment]” and also falsely claimed that there’s no evidence a plane crashed into the Pentagon. During their interview for 60 Minutes, Stahl did not ask whether Greene still believes 9/11 was an inside job.
In 2022, Greene was condemned by members of both parties after appearing at a white nationalist conference organized by Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, who introduced her before her speech. Though Greene eventually condemned Fuentes after controversy, she subsequently defended former President Donald Trump when he dined with Fuentes and antisemitic rapper Ye. Stahl did not ask Greene if her position on this has changed.
Greene has an extensively documented history of espousing antisemitic conspiracy theories and anti-Muslim rhetoric, famously pushing an absurd antisemitic conspiracy theory that suggested a space laser financed by “Rothschild Inc” was to blame for a 2018 California wildfire. Stahl failed to ask about these past bigoted remarks.
As she was running for Congress in 2020, Greene posted an image of herself with a gun alongside Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), encouraging “strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists.” Greene was also recorded in 2019 attempting to force Omar and Tlaib to retake their oaths on the Bible, calling them illegitimate representatives because they took their oaths of office on the Quran. In another video, Greene harassed Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office, saying, “If you want to be a big girl, you need to get rid of your diaper and come out and be able to talk to the American citizens.”
Greene was also a leading figure in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Since the January 6, 2021, insurrection, she has closely aligned herself — and subsequently the Republican Party — with the cause of charged and convicted January 6 rioters. Stahl failed to ask Greene about her support for overturning a free and fair presidential election, as well as her support for January 6 defendants.
Stahl did take the time, however, to tell viewers about Greene's exercise regimen and affinity for CrossFit.