Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing backlash for saying this week that she has discussed media literacy initiatives with members of Congress to “rein in” reporting that is either misinformation or disinformation.
Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks during an Instagram Live video in response to the following question: “Any discussion in Congress about federal truth and reconciliation or media literacy initiatives to help with healing?”
“What I can say is that there’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed, but it seems to be more investigatory in style rather than truth and reconciliation and so I think that’s an interesting concept for us to explore,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “And I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is a part of what happened here and we’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.”
She added, “It’s one thing to have differing opinions but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false and so that’s something that we’re looking into.”
AOC suggests adding “media literacy” as a mandate for a congressional “truth and reconciliation” committee pic.twitter.com/sv7UXMwvaO
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 13, 2021
Media analyst Joe Concha slammed Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks during an interview on Fox News, noting that she has downplayed making false statements in the past when she has been confronted over her own falsehoods and inaccurate statements.
“Let’s unpack this proposal, she wants to basically establish a Ministry of Truth, we’ve all read ‘1984’ and, you know, to determine what is truth and what is not. So who sits on this committee exactly? Eric Swalwell? Adam Schiff? Because they seem to have some challenges when it comes to telling the truth,” Concha said.
“How does Mrs. Ocasio-Cortez define truth exactly? She was asked in a [“60 Minutes”] interview, this was a couple of years ago after she was fact-checked on some very dubious claims, about those particular claims and she said, ‘People want to really blow up one figure here, or a word there, I would argue they are missing the forest for the trees, I think there is a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, semantically correct than being morally right.’”
“Oh, so it’s not about being factually correct, it’s what she sees as being right and wrong from a moral perspective,” Concha continued. “Let’s say I want to argue against defunding the police or adding two states, which therefore would add four Democratic senators. Does that make me morally wrong and therefore do I have to testify before this committee? Am I pulled off the air? That’s the thing when you have a Democratically controlled Washington—Congress, Senate and White House—this sort of thing in terms of government regulating speech should stay in China, or stay in North Korea or, I don’t know, ‘1984.’”
Columnist David Harsanyi also wrote this week that Ocasio-Cortez’s newest idea might be the worst one she has ever had, calling it “a Ministry of Truth,” a reference to Orwell’s classic.
“It’s just creepy, not to mention wholly un-American, for an elected official to advocate the state as adjudicator of veracity of our political speech,” he wrote. “It’s also crassly hypocritical. If anyone could use a truth commission, it’s Congress.”
Reason Editor Robby Soave also slammed Ocasio-Cortez for her idea, saying that what she is advocating for is unconstitutional.
“The federal government has no formal role to play in suppressing its spread,” Soave wrote. “The First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from infringing on freedom of the press or freedom of speech, and the Supreme Court has recognized no exceptions for disinformation. If the government could ban disinformation, after all, it could use that as a cover for banning speech that is not actually false but merely critical of the government, or of specific politicians. Recall that Democrats swiftly denounced The New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden’s foreign connections as ‘disinformation,’ even though many underlying aspects of the story have since been confirmed.”
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