April 3, 2023

Before it even aired Sunday evening, CBS’s “60 Minutes” was being blasted on social media for a segment on Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. The program’s Twitter account put out a tweet teasing the segment, saying, “Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, nicknamed MTG, isn’t afraid to share her opinions, no matter how intense and in-your-face they are. She sits down with Lesley Stahl this Sunday on 60 Minutes.”

What the tweet didn’t include, and what critics immediately jumped on, was that Greene’s intense and in-your-face opinions include QAnon conspiracies, as well as other far-right conspiracy theories, and comments that are racist, antisemitic and homophobic.

NBC News’ Ben Collins, who covers disinformation, extremism and the internet, tweeted, “oh my god what are we doing here.” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted, “This is the type of normalizing that mainstream media did of segregationists.” Former Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted, “Wow. Insane that 60 min would do this.”

That was the overwhelming response on social media. But not the unanimous one.

New York Times journalist Jonathan Swan tweeted, “People suggesting Mike Wallace would not have given a platform to MTG are not familiar with his career — either on 60 Minutes or Night Beat. He would have done a tough interview with her but based on who else he ‘platformed’ he wouldn’t have thought twice about giving her airtime.”

So, again, all this reaction was before the show even aired.

(Here is the segment.)

Is Greene worthy of being profiled by the gold standard of news shows? I would argue yes. As Lesley Stahl, who reported the story, said while introducing the piece, “She has managed in just two years in Congress to accumulate real power, landing on important committees, and influencing the direction of Republican policies.”

That makes Greene a newsworthy subject.

As far as the story and the interview that went along with it, opinions surely will be divided. Stahl did push Greene for some of her comments about Democrats (calling them “pedophiles”), her unwavering support of Donald Trump, her past comments about QAnon and the shooting at Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

At one point, Stahl stopped and essentially rolled her eyes while saying, “Wow. OK.” At another point, “60 Minutes” showed their receipts when posting screenshots of things Greene said on social media. So they didn’t give Greene a total pass.

But overall, it felt as if the pushback was light and not persistent — at least based on what made it to air. Greene was able to deflect questions, give non-answers and escape any real accountability for some of her outrageous and unproven views. For example, Stahl asked Greene about Greene’s opinion that the U.S. should have a “Christian government.”

Stahl said, “The Constitution, the very First Amendment, prohibits having a religion in the government.”

Greene answered, “Yet, the Founding Fathers quoted the Bible constantly and were driven by their faith.”

And … that was it. No follow-up, at least not one that was shown on air. That’s just one example. That’s how much of the story went. Greene supporters or even those who don’t follow her that closely likely came away thinking, “Hmm, OK, she’s a little extreme, but not that bad.”

Those who already didn’t like her had their opinions confirmed but likely were frustrated by how she was portrayed.

In other words, the fear that many had about the piece going in — that it would normalize Greene — likely came to fruition.

In the end, Greene absolutely should be profiled by “60 Minutes,” but not in the way “60 Minutes” did it.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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