Amid a string of unfavorable fact-checks by mainstream media outlets, freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) has launched her own version of a war on the media, in particular fact-checkers who she says spend too much time analyzing the factuality of her claims rather than the “morality” of her sentiments.
Primed for the fight, the youngest woman elected to Congress and “future” of the Democratic Party took a preemptive shot at The Washington Post after the outlet contacted her office about another fact-challenged interview. But the shot ended up backfiring and resulting in Ocasio-Cortez offering a qualified apology to an economist — but then claiming victory anyhow.
As noted in the fact-check, the Twitter feud with Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler actually began before Kessler published his piece. Kessler’s fact-check (which The Daily Wire covered here) took a closer look at Ocasio-Cortez’s statement in a Martin Luther King Day interview with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates:
Ocasio-Cortez: I think it’s wrong that a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.
Kessler started off his fact-check by letting the reader know that he’d had a “tense conversation” with a spokesman for the congresswoman, which was followed by the “media savvy” Ocasio-Cortez attempting to “preempt this fact-check” with a tweet:
Me: “I don’t think billionaires should concentrate wealth while employing people who are sleeping in cars working a zillion hours to survive.”
Next day: “That will be TEN PINOCCHIOS to Ocasio, ‘zillion’ is not a number and I found someone who sleeps in a tent, not a car.”
Kessler then got to the business of fact-checking her claims in the Coates interview, noting that her first claim that a “vast majority” of the country does not have a living wage is, first, based on a faulty premise because the living wage “is not really a measure of income but of living costs, before taxes, such as food, child care, housing, transportation and other basic necessities,” and thus is not some simple, universal number that applies to everyone everywhere.
He then noted that her office sent him an article claiming that about 51 million households (43% of all households) “don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, and a cell phone.” That’s “not a majority,” he pointed out. That article, he suggested is flawed anyhow; referring to a report for the left-leaning Brookings Institution, Kessler argued that the real percentage of households earning less than $16.07 was about 32 to 38.
Kessler then refuted the congresswoman’s claim that Walmart and Amazon pay their employees “less than a minimum wage,” by simply pointing out: “Both Walmart and Amazon do pay more than the minimum wage.”
“The Post awards Three Pinocchios for claims that contain ‘significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions,'” Kessler concluded.
In a back and forth chronicled by HotAir’s John Sexton, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter and engaged in a multi-day feud with Kessler, which included the representative falsely claiming Kessler used a report by a “Walmart-funded think tank” that actually ended up being a report by the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, Jason Furman.
After Ocasio-Cortez suggested Furman probably left government “to collect a lobbyist check,” Furman (who’s “no lobbyist”) eventually weighed in to inform the representative that the paper “was not funded by anyone,” but in fact produced for a conference hosted by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
Her “Walmart-funded” claim debunked, Ocasio-Cortez offered an apology to Furman, but then went on to claim victory over WaPo despite failing to accurately fact-check his fact-check:
H/T John Sexton