'60 Minutes' shamed for segment on Moms co-founders and their 'kernel of truth'

'60 Minutes' shamed for segment on Moms co-founders and their 'kernel of truth'

'60 Minutes' shamed for segment on Moms co-founders and their 'kernel of truth'

After the CBS news show “60 Minutes” did a hit piece on the new education group Moms for Liberty, the group’s founders are taking issue with their treatment by the show’s producers and correspondent Scott Pelley.

When the producters of “60 Minutes” requested an interview with Moms for Liberty about banning books in public schools, Moms co-founder Tiffany Justice didn't expect such dishonest treatment from CBS.

“When ‘60 Minutes’ said that they wanted to do the interview with us,” she recalls, “they said that they wanted to talk to us about some of the books that were being found in libraries.”

That seemed like a fair and honest discussion, so Justice and Moms co-founder Tina Descovich sat down with Pelley, five months ago in October, with cameras rolling. Just as planned, Justice opened up a book and shared the lewd, graphic content with the longtime CBS News correspondent.

When the segment finally aired last weekend, however…

“Unfortunately,” Justice points out, “‘60 Minutes’ didn't show any of the books that I was referencing. They didn't air any of the audio from me reading to Scott Pelley from a number of books and [reading] very graphic sexual content."

If that had been allowed to air, CBS viewers would have seen and heard what is in those books, and learned that pornography is available to young children on the shelves of public school libraries, which is what Moms is fighting to stop. Airing that portion of the interview would have also meant surrendering the moral high ground to Moms for Liberty.

Instead, when that portion of the interview aired, Justice is speaking but the audience can’t hear her because Pelley, speaking in a voice-over, is assuring the audience that Moms is exaggerating the problem of lewd books.

“Most people wouldn't want them in a lower school,” Pelley says of those books, “but in a tactic of outrage politics, Moms For Liberty takes a kernel of truth and concludes these examples are not rare mistakes but a plot to sexualize children."

Even that attempt to persuade the audience was questionable: The debate is over whether the books should be allowed in a school library, which nobody on either side is calling "rare mistakes." 

Justice predicted unfair treatment

Justice and Descovich weren’t caught by surprise, however, when CBS teased the segment in a March 1 post on X.

“We read graphic sexual content on camera to Scott Pelley from books found in public school libraries all over the country,” Justice wrote on X in response.

“Do you think that 60 Minutes will air that footage?” she asked. “We’ve got the transcript and a video of the interview.”

Sure enough, when the segment aired March 3, Justice and Descovich appeared elusive and unsure, and even dishonest, while Pelley (pictured at left) demanded they answer his simple questions.  

“[Pelley] would ask a question and they would edit it to make it seem like we weren't answering, or they would cut our answer off,” Justice recalls, referring to show's post-production editing.

What really happened, she argues, is Pelley and “60 Minutes” didn’t get the answers they wanted from the two women who came prepared to fight back.

“So the only thing that they could do with that interview,” she says, “was cut it up to make it look like we were being evasive."

Editor's note: Inaccurate representations of "60 Minutes" were removed after story was originally posted.