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Moms for Liberty reveals what was missing from '60 Minutes' hit piece
Image composite: X video, @60Minutes - Screenshots

Moms for Liberty reveals what was missing from '60 Minutes' hit piece

The co-founders of Moms for Liberty, former Florida school board members Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, spoke to "60 Minutes" host Scott Pelley in October 2023 about their organization and its work reinforcing parental rights, protecting children from being subjected to pornography at school, and combating grooming efforts in the classroom.

The interview was ultimately packaged as a hit piece and released Sunday. When it went air, the MFL duo noticed something was missing.

The parental rights group noted that critical details and comments they allegedly shared with Pelley and his producers — insights that may have vindicated their efforts in the court of public opinion — were omitted from the final product.

'60 Minutes' removes obscene books from its special

According to the parental rights group, its co-founders provided "60 Minutes" with an extensive list of books that have been reported at schools, "[n]ot just local libraries or retailers," containing lewd, obscene, or pornographic material.

Among the titles they allegedly brought to the attention of Pelley and his producers was Juno Dawson's "This Book is Gay," which contains the following entry: "Blowies: Oral sex is popping another dude's peen in your mouth or, indeed, popping yours in his. There is only one hard and fast rule when it comes to blow jobs—WATCH THE TEETH. Lips and tongue, yes; teeth, NO."

The parental rights group cited several other damning books they had previously flagged in American schools that "60 Minutes" did not bother to mention, including Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan's "Let's Talk About It," which contains detailed graphics on how to self-stimulate in a section entitled, "Things to Try!"

MFL wrote on X, "Would exposing minor children to these sexual images & texts by someone who is not their parent be grooming? It certainly is not educational. So, why did @60minutes censor this material from tonight's piece?"

Justice wrote, "We read graphic sexual content on camera to @ScottPelley from books found in public school libraries all over the country. Do you think that @60minutes will air that footage? We've got the transcript and a video of the interview."

While "60 Minutes" neglected to detail these titles and MFL's specific concerns with them, the program singled out a supposedly "banned" title dealing with anti-Semitism in Tsarist Russia. However, by CBS News' own admission, this title hadn't actually been banned but rather held for review on account of parental concerns over mature subject matter.

Revisionist histories and imagined bans

Critics suggested that the special was misleading from the start. When introducing the topic, Pelley stated, "Moms was founded as a reaction against COVID mandates."

Referencing her transcript of the conversation, Descovich indicated she had made clear to the the "60 Minutes" host that was not the case.

"Moms began as a, let me see. Yeah, [M]oms began as a movement to protest mask restrictions in schools with regard to COVID. And I wonder how you got to books?" said Pelley, according to the transcript shared online by the interviewee.

Descovich apparently responded, "Well, I'd like to say, first of all, we didn't start to protest masks. Mom for Liberty's mission is to unify, educate, and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government."

According to the transcript, Descovich underscored that during the pandemic, she and her co-founder began observing parents "coming to school board meetings, more than they ever had in our terms, and speaking up. But they didn't really know what they were doing. They were getting flustered, they were saying they were gonna report the school board to the County Commission which has no authority in Florida. They didn't understand the process or the polices or how to change a policy or how to be effective."

"And so we formed Moms for Liberty when we came off our terms to help parents in any circumstance be effective in impacting the government when it came to their children," added Descovich.

Extra to apparently providing an alternate history for the group, "60 Minutes" appears to have misrepresented the facts around book bans both in its special and in its corresponding social media communications.

In the lead-up to its special, "60 Minutes" tweeted, "There were over 3,000 book bans in U.S. schools last year. That rise is inspired, in part, by the conservative group Moms for Liberty."

Dr. Jay Greene, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy, suggested this claim was "simply false, even if one accepts the loose definition of ban as 'no longer available in a school library.'"

"60 Minutes" appears to have been regurgitating a debunked narrative advanced by the organization PEN America.

Greene, Max Eden, and Madison Marino noted in a report last year that they had gone through PEN's 2022 list of 2,532 banned books. After determining that 1,868 books were actually in districts with public card catalogs, the researchers confirmed that 1,378 books, "or 74 percent, are listed as available in the school district libraries from which PEN said they had been banned. Of the 1,261 books PEN labeled as 'Banned -- Pending Investigation,' 1,015, or 80 percent, were present in school libraries."

With the exception to 203 books in Texas and 174 books in Florida, the report revealed that only 113 books had been "successfully challenged in a calendar year amongst more than 10,000 school districts."

The 10 most "actually banned" books were found to "contain sexually explicit, if not outright pornographic, passages that few reasonable people would insist belong in a school library," according to the report.

Blaze News reached out to "60 Minutes" for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News. He lives in a small town with his wife and son, moonlighting as an author of science fiction.
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