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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Continues to Be Nitpicked Into Oblivion


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, facts, fact checking, pinocchios

For a member of Congress who has been in office for less than a week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has received what seems like a lifetime of media attention. Much of that comes from her supporters, showing appreciation for her words and actions. But a lot, and possibly even more of it, comes from rightwing media and wannabe internet pundits.

A narrative has been created around Ocasio-Cortez that relies on the admiration many young, progressive Americans have for the new lawmaker, but is dedicated to “proving” that such admiration is undeserved. That narrative gives no space for mistakes, missteps, or the sort of on-the-job learning curve nearly every other freshman representative gets to ride out outside of the media’s eye.

But, for better or for worse, AOC has become a very public figure. The “better” of that is that her progressive values get a central place in public discussions. The “worse” is that she is held to a different standard than her colleagues and reported on differently by the media, often with that narrative—rather than straight facts—in mind.

The latest example is an article on CNN about her “slippery slope with facts.” This comes after her sit-down with Anderson Cooper, where she was asked about a recent fact-check from The Washington Post, who awarded her a Four Pinocchio rating for a tweet she wrote in December about Medicare funding.

At one point in that conversation, she said, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.” And that’s the quote CNN’s Chris Cillizza led with.

However, that wasn’t the entire quote, and as we’ve seen many times before, when she is misrepresented, AOC will call it out.

Cillizza tries to claim the character count kept him from providing necessary context to what otherwise comes across as a very flippant, ignorant quote. But that’s a claim that doesn’t require the Washington Post to fact-check.

A sitting Congressional rep (or even rep-elect, as she was at the time of that tweet) should absolutley be called out when they misstate facts when pushing their policy agendas. But what Ocasio-Cortez and others are taking issue with is the scale of her scrutiny.

As a representative-elect, a month out from taking office, AOC’s tweet got not just a passing fact-check, but a full WaPo article with the same sort of detail you’d expect from an investigation of a whole collection of Trump’s lies.

Fact-checking is essential, and WaPo, Politifact, and others do important work. But we have to acknowledge that there is a bias and a narrative to deciding what to fact-check. Ocasio-Cortez was drawing attention to this fact while being entirely respectful of those who do this work.

Of course, there are still some calling this conversation a “meltdown.” But that’s always going to be the case, and AOC still dominates at this game.

(image: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.