Why Didn't 60 Minutes Push Back on MTG's "Pedophile" Smear?Historians in the News
tags: LGBTQ history, history of sexuality, Marjorie Taylor Greene
CBS anchor Lesley Stahl was shocked to hear that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stands firmly behind her frequent claim that Democrats are “pedophiles.” On “60 Minutes,” Stahl pressed Greene on her use of the slur, and the Georgia Republican defiantly responded that it’s the truth: “They support grooming children.”
“They are not pedophiles,” Stahl rejoined incredulously. “Why would you say that?”
Stahl has been roasted online for granting Greene a plum “60 Minutes” interview, which aired Sunday night. But the real problem with this exchange is that Stahl did not show any signs of understanding the longtime role of the “pedophile” insult in right-wing discourse as an expression of deliberate bigotry against transgender Americans.
The through line here, as historian Brandy Schillace points out, is that the right has recoiled both at the prospect of happy gay families and at young trans people finding better lives with their own parents’ loving support. The connection, Schillace told me, is “resistance to seeing homosexuals or transgender people as part of families,” carried out by associating LGBTQ people with “child predators.”
The “groomer” smear has become so mainstream in right-wing discourse that the longtime communications adviser for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis brashly hurled it at DeSantis’s critics, with zero professional repercussions.
The “pedophile” term also carries echoes of historical slurs used during the civil rights era, says Manisha Sinha, a history professor at the University of Connecticut. She likens it to claims that civil rights activists were “racial amalgamationists” out to “pollute” the South with racial mixing.
“The whole idea was to denigrate the fight for political citizenship as some sort of sexual attack on the White race,” Sinha tells me. “In that sense, this language of ‘pedophiles’ and ‘groomers’ is reminiscent of that kind of language.”