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Marjorie Taylor Greene hasn’t changed

A "60 Minutes" profile gave the Georgia Republican an undeserved chance to mainstream her extremism.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is no longer a bit player in the House Republican caucus. She may still be a backbencher, but not many lawmakers in their second term land a sit-down interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” like the one that aired on Sunday.

I understand why interviewer Leslie Stahl was interested in speaking with Greene. Between her bond with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and her fundraising prowess, Greene has real clout within the GOP. But the resulting package was the worst kind of faux objectivity, offering Greene an undeserved chance to mainstream and sanitize her image.

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Greene’s “60 Minutes” profile was just one piece of a very deliberate attempt to win over journalists after years of negative coverage. “It was just a shift in my thinking,” she told Semafor’s Kadia Goba. And if anyone watching Sunday’s broadcast — which included B-roll of Stahl watching the congresswoman do a CrossFit routine — was getting their first glimpse on Greene, it seems unlikely that they got a full understanding of just how far-right she truly is.

The resulting package was the worst kind of faux objectivity, offering Greene an undeserved chance to mainstream and sanitize her image.

Yes, as Stahl makes clear in her introduction, the interviews with Greene took place before Donald Trump’s indictment last week. That means the piece doesn’t address her planned protest in New York City scheduled for Tuesday ahead of the former president's arraignment in a Manhattan courthouse. But it’s not clear how much including those details would have mattered, given Greene’s determination to position herself as the new normal for the GOP.

Stahl did bring up some of Greene’s more “controversial” views, including her false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and that Democrats are “pedophiles” for supporting trans rights. But there was only the mildest of pushback on either claim from Stahl. Most damning was when, during the back-and-forth on Greene’s use of pedophile, Stahl asked: “Can't you fight for what you believe in without all that name-calling and without the personal attacks?”

Therein lies the biggest problem with trying to profile someone like Greene in the “view from nowhere” or “just the facts” framing that “60 Minutes” still utilizes. Stahl’s question makes it seem like Greene’s anti-trans arguments are stances that should just be taken down a notch, instead of policy positions that actively hurt and endanger trans Americans and their families.

The interview also failed to dwell on one of the most trenchant observations about the current state of the GOP that Greene offered up:

On an issue, when I'm outspoken about it, and I take my stand or my position, the first reaction is, “Marjorie's crazy. Marjorie's extreme. Marjorie's a right-wing extremist.” And then what will happen is my colleagues will go back home to their district, and their own constituents are coming up and saying, “Are you supporting Marjorie? Do you agree with Marjorie? Have you co-sponsored Marjorie's bill?”

And then they find out, “Oh, maybe she's not crazy.” And then they end up agreeing with me.

- Marjorie taylor greene to CBS News' Leslie Stahl

It’s a revealing window into how House Republicans function — but it doesn’t say what Greene thinks it does. What that anecdote tells me isn’t that Greene is right in her positions or that she isn’t an extremist, but that her extremism is still resonating with the GOP’s deep-red base. It says to me that Republicans more concerned about keeping their jobs than legislating effectively are turning to Greene as a touchstone for avoiding primary challenges from the right.

If anything, Greene’s rising prominence is a sign that the GOP is still being pulled further to the right, not looking for a moderating force in the post-Trump era. The fact that Greene could land, and feel good about, a major interview like this makes Stahl complicit in the congresswoman’s shadow campaign to be Trump’s running mate in 2024. And to not address that rightward drift, her role in exacerbating it, and the way it is doing lasting damage to our country, does a major disservice to the “60 Minutes” audience.