CNN Insists Moms for Liberty Is ‘Waning,’ Touts Liberal Opponents

Political News

On Thursday’s CNN This Morning, correspondent Carlos Suarez devoted a full report to promoting wishful thinking by liberals that Moms for Liberty is losing influence in the right-leaning group’s push for parents’ rights in schools.

Co-host Phil Mattingly referred to the “wild story” that is “rattling conservative politics” as he set up the report recalled a prominent member of the group being involved in a sex scandal. This hasn’t been their line on Fani Willis, and CNN rallied around the Clintons during their raging sex scandals. But this is conservatives, and a sex scandal for a group opposing graphic sex in the school libraries is fun for them: 

MATTINGLY: It’s the wild story that has been rattling conservative politics the last several months. The right-wing group, Moms for Liberty, facing accelerating pushback amid an ongoing sex scandal that’s drawing national attention — and after school board candidates suffered big losses late last year. Now, Moms for Liberty has been involved in clashes over how race and gender issues are discussed in classrooms while pushing for book bans in schools across the country.

As the piece also focused on a liberal group (called Stop Moms for Liberty) that has been pushing back against the right-leaning group, Suarez used ideological labels “conservative” or “right-wing” four times in total (three of which were direct labels of Moms for Liberty).

The CNN correspondent began his report emphasizing challenges to the parental rights’ group: “So Moms for Liberty is feeling these — they’re facing rather these new questions and this increased pushback from parents and educators and teachers who feel the group’s influence on school districts across the country — the grip that they’ve had on them — isn’t exactly what it used to be.”

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After recalling issues like COVID masking that inspired the group into “waging a culture war,” Suarez then moved to liberal critics who, unlike Moms for Liberty, were not given an ideological label:

SUAREZ: Critics, however, say their objective is very different.

JENNIFER JENKINS, BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: I think that things have gone too far, and people are finally standing up to say, you know, “This is my choice — these are my kids as well, too — you don’t get to make these decisions for us.”

He then moved on to a former teacher who claimed that Moms for Liberty did not want children to be allowed to wear masks even though the debate was actually about liberals not forcing children to mask if their parents were against it:

SUAREZ: She and others say what Moms for Liberty do care about is control.

VIRGINIA HAMILTON, STOP MOMS FOR LIBERTY MEMBER: The first deal was with the masking, and Moms for Liberty didn’t want the kids to be able to wear masks.

SUAREZ: Virginia Hamilton was a public school teacher for 31 years. She joined the group Stop Moms for Liberty because she feels Moms for Liberty isn’t about liberty at all.

After recalling that Moms for Liberty has also tried to have questionable books removed from some schools, Tina Descovich was allowed to defend their group, that they’re not “waning.” Suarez sought to rebut that argument: ”But the numbers tell a different story, according to Moms for Liberty. In 2022, 55 percent of the 500 candidates the group endorsed won their race for school board while, in 2023, only 43 percent of 202 endorsed candidates won seats. They insist they’re not losing traction.”

Suarez did not address whether 2023 elections might have been held in disproportionately more liberal areas although, without directly connecting the two, later in the report he did note that the conservative group is making more pushes into “liberal” parts of the country.

The CNN reporter concluded by further pushing the narrative that the conservative group has weakened in its support:

We counted a single Moms for Liberty supporter at a school board hearing here in Brevard County earlier this week where board members were taking up a number of issues, including whether to remove two books that had been challenged. Now, after board members heard from a number of Stop Moms for Liberty supporters, the board decided to keep the books in the classroom.

Suarez drew an “attaboy” response at the end: 

MATTINGLY: That’s a great piece. Carlos, thank you.

POPPY HARLOW: Yeah, it really was.

Transcript follows:

CNN This Morning 

January 25, 2024

6:27 a.m. Eastern

PHIL MATTINGLY: It’s the wild story that has been rattling conservative politics the last several months. The right-wing group, Moms for Liberty, facing accelerating pushback amid an ongoing sex scandal that’s drawing national attention — and after school board candidates suffered big losses late last year. Now, Moms for Liberty has been involved in clashes over how race and gender issues are discussed in classrooms while pushing for book bans in schools across the country. CNN’s Carlos Suarez joins us live from Melbourne, Florida. Carlos, this cloud has been hanging over the group for a while now — both the electoral losses but also the wild personal life issues that they’re dealing with. What’s happening right now?

CARLOS SUAREZ: Well, Phil, good morning. So Moms for Liberty is feeling these — they’re facing rather these new questions and this increased pushback from parents and educators and teachers who feel the group’s influence on school districts across the country — the grip that they’ve had on them — isn’t exactly what it used to be.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Masks do not work.

SUAREZ: Just a year ago, Moms for Liberty was wielding power over hundreds of school boards across the country waging a culture war, even garnering support from potential candidates.

DONALD TRUMP: You have taught the radical left Marxists and communists a lesson. (editing jump) You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to America.

SUAREZ: The “joyful warriors,” as they call themselves, uniting moms around the nation to joins forces.

TIFFANY JUSTICE, MOMS FOR LIBERTY CO-FOUNDER: But we are also warriors, meaning if someone is demonstrably harming our children, we are going to come together to fight to protect them.

SUAREZ: Their mission, they say, to protect public rights in public school education at all levels of government.

TINA DESCOVICH, MOMS FOR LIBERTY CO-FOUNDER: Either you’re focused on protecting parental rights or you’re going to improve education in your community.

SUAREZ: Critics, however, say their objective is very different.

JENNIFER JENKINS, BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: I think that things have gone too far, and people are finally standing up to say, you know, “This is my choice — these are my kids as well, too — you don’t get to make these decisions for us.”

SUAREZ: Jennifer Jenkins — a school board member in Brevard County, Florida, unseated Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich.

JENKINS: This organization was founded by three school board members, and no one has ever asked them, “What did you do while you were in the school board when you had the power and the opportunity to make these changes you claim are so important to you?”

SUAREZ: She and others say what Moms for Liberty do care about is control.

VIRGINIA HAMILTON, STOP MOMS FOR LIBERTY MEMBER: The first deal was with the masking, and Moms for Liberty didn’t want the kids to be able to wear masks.

SUAREZ: Virginia Hamilton was a public school teacher for 31 years. She joined the group Stop Moms for Liberty because she feels Moms for Liberty isn’t about liberty at all.

HAMILTON: Then, it went further. It went into next the book banning. Now, Moms for Liberty is pushing for curriculum changes.

SUAREZ: But now, amid a slew of salacious news stories featuring the conservative group, including a sex scandal involving the husband of co-founder Bridget Ziegler, some say the group’s influence is waning.

JENKINS: People are seeing, you know, news cycle after news cycle the hypocrisy of the things that they advocate for and they say they stand for.

SUAREZ: Moms for Liberty insists none of that is hurting their cause.

DESCOVICH: I think that was a very sensational headline that went around the world very quickly. That’s not, you know, who Moms for Liberty is. We stay focused on defending parental rights.

SUAREZ: But the numbers tell a different story, according to Moms for Liberty. In 2022, 55 percent of the 500 candidates the group endorsed won their race for school board while, in 2023, only 43 percent of 202 endorsed candidates won seats. They insist they’re not losing traction.

DESCOVICH: To say it’s waning, I think that’s ridiculous. We are just doing the work that we’re doing.

SUAREZ: The group also says they are a grassroots organization not politically motivated at all, yet nearly every Republican presidential candidate attended a summit they held last summer in Philadelphia.

DESCOVICH: It’s because they know that moms are passionate about these issues.

SUAREZ: Despite their insistence they are not losing ground, the conservative group has recently tried expanding into more liberal states, just last week holding a town hall meeting in New York City, which was met by a protest from local parents. Back in Florida, educators like Jenkins and Hamilton both happy the group’s influence seems to be waning are still worried about the long-term effects of what the group started.

JENKINS: They infiltrated the state legislature. Those laws are not going to just go away because Moms for Liberty goes away.

HAMILTON: We want the teachers to feel like they can teach again, and it was all taken away.

SUAREZ: We counted a single Moms for Liberty supporter at a school board hearing here in Brevard County earlier this week where board members were taking up a number of issues, including whether to remove two books that had been challenged. Now, after board members heard from a number of Stop Moms for Liberty supporters, the board decided to keep the books in the classroom. Phil and Poppy?

MATTINGLY: That’s a great piece. Carlos, thank you.

POPPY HARLOW: Yeah, it really was.

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