“60 Minutes” catapults Marjorie Taylor Greene from “the fringe to the front row”

Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about the mainstream media “normalizing” and “mainstreaming” the white nationalist fringe that has risen to prominence under the Trump regime. They have been reasonably successful at providing context for stories about groups like the Proud Boys and have done a decent job of reporting on events like January 6. But they just can’t seem to wrap their minds around how to deal with the insurrectionist caucus in Congress.

On Sunday, CBS News inexplicably decided to air Lesley Stahl’s interview with second-term Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for the venerable “60 Minutes.” If you think it was a tough interview, take a look at this response from Greene and I think you’ll be able to guess how it went:

“It was an honor to spend a few days with the legendary icon Leslie [sic] Stahl and talented crew [of 60 Minutes]. Leslie is a trailblazer for women in journalism. And while we may disagree on some issues, I respect her greatly.”

The show promoted it like Stahl was interviewing just another colorful, political character with some offbeat. views:

“From fringe to front row” read the headline on the accompanying article.

First of all, is her nickname really “MTG”? I’ve never seen it used that way. It’s common on Twitter, but that’s just because of the character limit. If people are using it like JFK or FDR that’s news to me — and if they aren’t then it’s another example of “60 Minutes” not doing its homework.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has the instincts of a fascist and a penchant for conspiracy theories.

The interview started with Stahl rattling off a list of rude descriptions people have applied to Greene, as if she’s the real victim of rhetorical assaults. Then the two went into a long back-and-forth about the debt ceiling because Greene is so important now that we must take her seriously on the issues. (Greene’s answer to what cuts she would make was to cancel “Green New Deal” spending and Covid relief assistance. On that, she didn’t sound much more foolish than most GOP members of Congress.)

But something more important is at stake. Talking to her about substantive issues as if she is even slightly cognizant of the details, much less caring about them, was a huge mistake. This little colloquy gives the impression that Greene’s a legitimate legislator when she is not. She’s a hardcore culture warrior. That is from where her power derives.

Stahl’s attempt to pin her down on some of her outrageous statements was pathetically inadequate and Greene was allowed to deflect and turn the questions back on her political enemies:

And things she says that are over the top, like —

Lesley Stahl: The Democrats are a party of pedophiles.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: I would definitely say so. They support grooming children.  

Lesley Stahl: They are not pedophiles.  Why would you say that?

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Democrats, Democrats support, even Joe Biden, the president himself, supports children being sexualized and having transgender surgeries. Sexualizing children is what pedophiles do to children.

Lesley Stahl: Wow. OK. But my question really is, can’t you fight for what you believe in without all that name-calling and without the personal attacks?

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Well, I would ask the same question to the other side, because all they’ve done is call me names and insult me non-stop since I’ve been here, Lesley. They call me racist. They call me sen, anti-Semitic, which is not true.  I’m not calling anyone names. I’m calling out the truth basically-

Lesley Stahl: Pedophile?

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Pedophi– call it what it is. 

They then show some footage with Greene declaring she believes the election was stolen and cut to Stahl and Greene wandering on the grounds of her palatial home in Georgia where Stahl’s voiceover talks about her wealth, suggesting she’s a self-made woman who ran the family construction business along with her husband. (This is a tale that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution fact-checked and debunked. She was not active in that company at all.)

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We then spend an inordinate amount of time watching Greene lift weights at a cross-fit gym (uncomfortably up close and personal) which was actually her primary interest in life until she discovered Donald Trump in 2017. You see, Marjorie Taylor Greene did not even have a slight interest in politics until about five or six years ago when she went online in the excitement of Trump’s upset victory and immediately dove headfirst into the right-wing rabbit hole. It was there that she made her reputation as a Trump-worshiping conspiracy theorist. Greene’s entire political worldview was formed on 4-chan, Facebook and a fringe right-wing blog where she pushed QAnon and wrote posts about “disturbing behavior that seems to keep raring it’s ugly heads … Child Sex, Satanism, and the Occult all associated with the Democratic Party.” That is all she knows about politics and government. And within three years, she was running for Congress.

Stahl let Greene get away with blowing all that off by referring to that vapid House floor speech in which she said she regretted “being allowed to believe things that were not true.” And she didn’t follow up when Greene claimed she was not responsible for liking a post that threatened former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a “bullet to her head.” She laughably claimed someone else had been using her social media account.

If Stahl were better prepared she would have had this at the ready. It’s from 2019:

Greene got testy when Stahl asked her those questions saying, “have you fact-checked all my statements from kindergarten through 12th grade? And in college?” Unfortunately, Stahl didn’t point out that all of these comments were in just the last five years — when Marjorie Taylor Greene was well into her 40s. There is no need to go back any further than that because she didn’t have a thought in her head about politics until she discovered the Donald Trump fandom.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has the instincts of a fascist and a penchant for conspiracy theories. She’s very energetic and very aggressive and no one should underestimate her talents, such as they are. She has admitted that she wants to create a new Republican Party in her image and while I don’t think she fully understands what that means, she’s flying by the seat of her pants and, so far, it’s working for her. “60 Minutes” went some distance last night in helping her to shoot this toxic form of politics directly into the American political mainstream. 


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