Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” Follow him @DeanObeidallah@masto.ai. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Last year, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia spoke at a white nationalist event organized by Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes that caused Republican leaders to denounce her.
Last week, Greene’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended by the Elon Musk-headed platform over a tweet with a graphic referring to a “Trans Day of Vengeance,” as she denounced a planned transgender rights rally.
And come Tuesday, Greene has announced plans to protest in New York City when former President Donald Trump is expected to be arraigned on an indictment of more than 30 counts, calling the proceedings against him an “unconstitutional WITCH HUNT!”
But on Sunday, Greene was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview the long-running show promoted on Twitter with the tease: “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.” The images attached to this tweet by “60 Minutes” include Greene and Stahl walking through the US Capitol, taking a stroll outside and Greene showing Stahl something on her phone.
In the segment that aired Sunday night, Stahl noted the congresswoman had moved from the fringe to the GOP’s front row in two years despite a “sharp tongue” and “some pretty radical views” as well as “over the top” comments such as “the Democrats are a party of pedophiles.” Stahl also referred to video of Greene chasing a Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor, still maintaining that the 2020 election was stolen and failing to criticize Trump over spending. (The interview was conducted before news of his indictment.)
But Stahl didn’t mention Greene spoke at a white nationalist event a year ago while a member of Congress or her extreme anti-Muslim views and her defense of January 6 rioters.
Criticism of CBS for amplifying Greene has been swift and well-deserved even before the program aired. Former GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted beforehand: “Wow. Insane that 60 min would do this.” (Kinzinger is a CNN senior political commentator.)
Journalist Molly Jong-Fast also slammed “60 Minutes” with the tweet: “Attention is currency and 60 minutes is spending its currency on the Jewish space lasers woman.” (Jong-Fast was apparently referring to Greene’s past claim that a massive California wildfire was started by “a laser” beamed from space controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family.)
David Hogg, who survived the 2018 horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and has since become an activist against gun violence, responded, “I look forward to your questions about why she thinks school shootings are fake and why she’s supported QAnon.”
Greene amplified the conspiracy theory — two years before being elected to Congress — that the Parkland shooting that took 17 lives was staged. And in 2019, Greene appeared on video confronting Hogg outside the Capitol when he was championing laws to save lives from gun violence, screaming that the then-teenager was a “coward.” She also called Hogg “#littleHitler” on social media.
Greene’s own tweet promoting Sunday’s segment was not filled with her typical smears of “fake news” when she doesn’t like the coverage. Rather, Greene urged people to tune in as she praised “60 Minutes” host Stahl (and misspelled her first name): “It was an honor to spend a few days with the legendary icon Leslie Stahl and talented crew @60Minutes.” Greene added, “Leslie is a trailblazer for women in journalism. And while we may disagree on some issues, I respect her greatly.”
Now, it is true that “60 Minutes” over its 50-plus-year history has featured what the show has dubbed “controversial” guests. These include a 2000 interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, whose 1995 terrorist attack left 168 dead, including 19 children. And the show did a 1979 interview with Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Perhaps “60 Minutes” views Greene — who has repeatedly downplayed and even defended the January 6, 2021, attack plus called for the GOP to become the party of “Christian nationalism” — in the vein of its long list of controversial guests. (CBS had not responded to a request from CNN for comment at time of publishing.)
However, the choice of Greene as a guest instantly recalls the comments of then-CBS CEO Les Moonves during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign when he admitted that Trump’s candidacy “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Moonves added, “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. … (T)his is going to be a very good year for us,” concluding, “Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
Moonves may be gone from CBS, but it appears his mindset continues at “60 Minutes.” And that may be good for “60 Minutes,” but it’s definitely not good for America.