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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Point-counterpoint: Platforming controversial speakers

Recent 60 Minutes interview with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene raises debate over role of media, free speech
Cait Gibbons

60 Minutes recently aired an episode featuring an interview with U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). The controversial piece gave a contentious political figure a platform on a well-watched media outlet, raising an important debate — does it limit open discourse to deny someone a platform to speak their mind, or is it up to the media to vet the guests they invite and remain mindful of the rhetoric they might spread as a result?

Point: 60 Minutes should not have given Taylor Greene a platform

On a 60 Minutes episode that aired April 2, Lesley Stahl sat down with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene has gained notoriety in the last several years for her controversial opinions, violent rhetoric and inflammatory remarks. Though every American has the right to freedom of speech, Greene should not have been given a legitimate platform on 60 Minutes due to her history of spreading misinformation, advocating for violence and promoting dangerous ideas.


Greene’s rise to notoriety began when people discovered her old social media posts promoting conspiracy theories. In a post from 2018, she suggested that space lasers could be responsible for the wildfires that were decimating California at that time. In the same post, she insinuated that the Rothschild family — a wealthy Jewish family — was behind the plot to launch the lasers into space.

It wasn’t enough for Greene to push an outlandish conspiracy theory — it was antisemitic as well. When Greene is in the news, it is usually within the context of stories like this, and there are almost too many controversial quotes, tweets and rants to count.

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The congresswoman has also openly admitted she used to believe in a conspiracy theory called “QAnon.” The core belief of QAnon is that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who worship Satan. There are many other equally absurd conspiracy theories connected to it as well, such as John F. Kennedy Jr. still being alive or that 9/11 was an inside job. These conspiracy theories are dangerous and are being spread throughout the Republican Party by individuals like Greene. A 2021 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found 23% of Republicans believe QAnon is real.

Greene also has a well-documented history of supporting violence against her Democratic colleagues. In January 2019, a Facebook user made a post that said, “A bullet to the head would be quicker,” when referring to the removal of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from office. As originally reported by CNN, Greene liked the comment. In that same month, Greene also launched a petition calling for the impeachment of Nancy Pelosi on charges of treason.

CNN also reported that in the comment sections of her Facebook profile, Greene liked more comments about Pelosi, including “through removal or death, doesn’t matter, as long as she goes” and “beat Pelosi’s ass.”

As American citizens, everyone in the United States should be guaranteed the right to free speech. But 60 Minutes should not have given Greene a platform to speak on her beliefs and ideas. She spreads misinformation, advocates for violence and promotes dangerous ideas. Due to her power and influence, Greene is able to push her violent and dangerous rhetoric to a significant audience already and putting her on 60 Minutes only further disseminates her ideas into the American public.

Josh Standal ([email protected]) is a junior studying history.

Point-Counterpoint: News414, the future of journalism

Counterpoint: Controversial pieces of media can reduce echo chambers 

Though some criticize CBS’ decision to host right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on 60 Minutes, giving her a platform on a mainstream media platform may help expose the extremity and danger of her beliefs.

As a disclaimer, Lesley Stahl, the interviewer, could have challenged Greene more intensely at points. For example, Stahl could have spent more time refuting Greene’s outlandish positions, such as her belief in a Christian government or her claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But with effective interviews that combine giving controversial politicians an opportunity to speak and calling out their lies, the truth about people like Greene will come to light.

Greene’s political strategy is marked by inflammatory and hateful speech. During the 60 Minutes interview, Greene called Democrats “pedophiles” for their support of providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth — blatantly mischaracterizing this care with sexualization of children.

Undoubtedly, Stahl failed to refute these allegations as not only incorrect, but incredibly harmful for the transgender community. Though a plurality of Americans support restrictions on gender-affirming medical care for minors, conflating these beliefs with claims of pedophilia may conflict with the majority of Americans who favor protecting transgender people from discrimination. Exposing this discrepancy is critical for demonstrating why Greene’s beliefs are so harmful.

One interview strategy that was effective, however, was introduced when discussing the national debt ceiling. Greene stubbornly holds a position that the only way to avoid hitting the debt ceiling would be to reduce spending on pandemic-era benefits and renewable energy efforts. When Stahl asked if she would be willing to compromise by raising some taxes, Greene said she absolutely would not.

Point-Counterpoint: Should government spending be cut to handle debt ceiling crisis?

According to the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, 70% of Americans want Congress to compromise. Pointing out Greene’s complete unwillingness to compromise — even if it risks allowing the country to go into default — demonstrates how her views conflict with those of everyday Americans who need politicians to work together to find solutions.

More broadly, research shows that people who exist in echo chambers — spaces where people’s beliefs are reinforced by those around them — are more likely to become radicalized. In one study, the amount of moral convergence in a social group predicted the amount of hate speech they spread. This is a strong motivator to bring people like Greene into mainstream media spaces with more diverse perspectives.

Within the context of First Amendment law, Americans have broad protections for free speech from the government — even hate speech. But the benefits of open discussion can only be realized if radical speakers have to engage with those who disagree with them and face the social consequences of their speech. Unmet with public scrutiny, Green’s hateful ideas will continue to fester.

Ultimately, Greene enjoys a level of notoriety within far-right political circles. But placing her popularity within a national context — just 26% of Americans find her favorable — may help delegitimize her status in the mainstream aisles of political discourse.

Celia Hiorns ([email protected]) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.

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