Mainstreaming Extremism At CNS
CNSNews.com promoted Marjorie Taylor Greene even before she became a Republican congressional candidate and then a House member -- but it hid her extreme far-right views from readers until they finally became politically inconvenient.
By Terry Krepel
Marjorie Taylor Greene
The petition, devoid of supporting evidence, is pure wackiness:
Nancy Pelosi is a TRAITOR to the American People!
Yet Bannister thought this was of significant enough importance to devote an article to. So much so, in fact, that he did another article on it in October 2019, giving it the same undeserved serious coverage:
A White House website “We the People” petition calling on Congress to “IMPEACH Pelosi for treason!” has garnered more than a quarter-million signatures to-date.
Bannister wouldn't tell you, however, that Greene is a far-right activist -- enough of one to have earned a profile from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC stated that Greene had been livestreaming her various stunts on Facebook (of which her delivery of the Pelosi petition was just one), where she "uses a cheery persona and smiles to sugarcoat a message of intolerance toward different targets all based on the opportunity for publicity." She hangs out with Islamophobic extremists like Laura Loomer as well as anti-government militia leaders, and she has also heckled survivors of the Parkland school massacre as "brainwashed" for pushing to change gun laws.
After that, Greene became a candidate for a House seat in Georgia, where she continued to act out in publicity stunts. Bannister indulged her with a June 2 article:
“I have a message for ANTIFA terrorists,” Marjorie Taylor Greene says while holding a semi-automatic rifle in an 18-second video on her Congressional campaign Twitter page.
Bannister didn't indicate whether Antifa was ever a threat in northwest Georgia. Instead, he promoted her campaign and once again plugged her anti-Pelosi petition.
Bannister was also pretty giddy in a June 10 post, touting that "Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose video campaign ad featuring her holding a semi-automatic rifle while warning Antifa terrorists to 'Stay the hell out of northwest Georgia' was banned from Facebook, handily garnered the top vote total in Tuesday’s Georgia 14th district GOP primary." Not only does Greene not even live in the district (moving there only after she filed to run there), she didn't even fully win the primary; she was slated for a primary runoff with the second-place finisher in August.
Bannister obscured that fact, but he completely censored Greene's far-right extremism, which was further revealed after the primary. Turns out Greene made a series of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic videos that she posted on Facebook, and is also an avid believer in fringe QAnon conspiracy theories, which has caused prominent Republicans to withdraw their support of her campaign.
Bannister, meanwhile, never breathed a word of this at CNS, which is not terribly interested in reporting the truth when it's inconvenient to its pro-Trump, pro-Republican agenda.
Greene not only won her primary runoff, she won the election for the seat, making her an actual congresswoman. With that victory, CNS felt it could start promoting her again -- while still censoring her extremism. In a Nov. 20 article, Melanie Arter promoted an appearance by Greene on Fox Business:
When asked what her priorities will be when she takes office, Congresswoman-Elect Marjorie Greene (R-Ga.) said Friday that she wants to fight back against Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives and end abortion, because she believes it’s “completely evil” and taxpayer dollars shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Arter made sure not to mention Greene's love of QAnon or her hateful Facebook videos.
CNS continued to promote Greene after that:
Susan Jones served up a more full-throated defense of Greene in a Jan. 13 article:
Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) told CNN on Wednesday that newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is among the "handful" of lawmakers who are "morally bankrupt," "depraved," and "dangerous."
In addition to censoring Greene's admiration for QAnon, Jones also omitted other relevant information for context, whereas Politico did not:
After Congress resumed its certification proceedings following the attack, Greene was one of the 147 congressional Republicans who still objected to the election results. She also drew criticism last week after video footage showed her, along with a handful of other House Republicans, refusing to wear a mask while sheltering with other lawmakers amid the violence. At least three House Democrats have since tested positive for Covid-19.
The next day, Jones cheered that "Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said on Wednesday she plan to file articles of impeachment against Democrat Joe Biden the day after he is sworn in as president," adding that "Greene is among President Trump’s strongest congressional supporters, and at least one Democrat has mentioned 'expulsion' as a way to 'stop' her." Again, Jones forgot to mention that Greene is a right-wing extremist who is an adherent to the QAnon conspiracy theory. (She also forgot to mention any cause Greene has for impeaching Biden.
Finally admitting it
Greene's extreme views would become the subject of a controversy in the House -- coming after the revelation of even more extreme opinions -- but would CNS finally tell its readers the truth?
The start of the controversy didn't bode well. In a Jan. 28 article, Jones highlighted Nancy Pelosi saying that the enemy was "in the House of Representatives":
A reporter asked Pelosi, "What exactly did you mean that the enemy is within?"
Nope, Jones wasn't ready to admit that Greene's views were extreme -- or even exactly what those views were -- given how quick she was to blame the "partisan media" and not, you know, common sense.
The same day, Bannister complained that entertainer Bette Midler was "'fantasizing' about three Republican members of Congress getting lost at sea, and that she isn’t joking." The list included Greene and Lauren Boebert -- another extremist congresswoman whose extremism CNS won't acknowledge.
A Jan. 29 article by Jones didn't mention Greene by name, but it gave Republican Rep. Steve Scalise a platform to complain that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is playing a 'dangerous kind of game' by demonizing Republican lawmakers as the 'enemy,'" going on to approvingly cite Fox News host Laura Ingraham declaring that "Democrats, by making an overwhelming show of security at the Capitol and demonizing colleagues who exercise their right to carry guns, 'are setting the stage to make a run on the guns of law-abiding citizens...I think that is exactly right, whether it is going after ammo with obscene taxes on ammunition or other types of restrictions, I think you have just nailed it. I think that's exactly what's going on.'"
It was not until House leaders threatened to remove Greene from her committees that Jones finally felt compelled to discuss Greene in detail in a Feb. 2 article, though she took a somewhat lazy way out and simply quoted Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell:
The House Rules Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss "removing a certain member from certain standing committees of the House of Representatives."
Jones also added a few defiant tweets from Greene, such as a rant that "If Democrats remove me from my committees, I can assure them that the precedent they are setting will be used extensively against members on their side once we regain the majority after the 2022 elections."
The next day, however, Jones was serving up revisionist history, minimizing what Greene said as having been done before she was elected and engaging in more media-blaming:
Greene has come under fire for some of the comments and opinions she's aired on social media before taking office -- speech that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called "looney lies and conspiracy theories."
Jones was defending Greene again in a Feb. 4 article:
As Democrats in Congress and the media go all-out to make freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) the face of the Republican Party, today they'll go beyond demonizing her (and her fellow Republicans) by stripping Greene of her House committee assignments.
Jones didn't admit that CNS censored the details of Greene's "crackpot theories" until the issue was forced in the House. Curiously, CNS didn't devote a story to Greene's House floor speech the same day in which she claimed to express regret for the extreme views she espoused.
In the midst of all this, CNS did a curious thing. In a Feb. 5 article written after the House had stripped Greene of her committee assignments for her extreme-right views, Susan Jones was letting her have a little victory lap -- under the headline "Rep. Greene tweets: 'I Woke Up...Laughing, Thinking About What a Bunch of Morons the Democrats...Are'" -- while also trying to enforce the new narrative of CNS' owner, the Media Research Center, that Greene's views don't reflect those of the Republican Party:
Stripped of her two committee assignments, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene nevertheless tweeted on Friday that she woke up "laughing" about Democrat "morons" who are giving someone like her "free" publicity.
Well, apparently someone at CNS thought better of this article, because it was deleted sometime after its publication. The original link goes to an empty page, and the article is no longer listed in Jones' article archive. CNS has not explained why it deleted Jones' article; perhaps it decided after the fact that it was a bad look to cheer on Greene's sick burn of the Dems when it's trying to distance itself and the entire conservative movement from her.
Jones' article remains for perpetuity at the Internet Archive, because the internet is forever -- as Greene herself has learned.