Politics & Policy

Ocasio-Cortez Is Wrong to Attack Fact-Checkers

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Netroots Nation political conference in 2018. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)
Does she really believe the Washington Post is biased in favor of Trump?

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacked fact-checkers on Monday, saying that they were guilty of “false equivalency” and “bias” in correcting her mistakes.

In a series of tweets, Ocasio-Cortez attacked both the Washington Post and PolitiFact.

In case you missed it, The Post had run a piece titled “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion mistake” on December 4, and Politifact ran a similar piece. Both pointed out that she had misunderstood or misrepresented data when she claimed that “Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon” in a tweet.

Everyone makes mistakes — I know that I have — but dealing with it by attacking the fact-checkers who pointed them out is absolutely ludicrous. It’s even more ludicrous to attack them on grounds of “bias,” as if President Trump has never been fact-checked. In fact, as Washington Post columnist Sal Rizzo (the author of the column that Ocasio-Cortez attacked) pointed out in a tweet, “there’s a big difference between the colossal amount of time we spend fact-checking Trump (7,645 false/misleading claims and counting) and TWO fact-checks of @AOC.”

It’s true: The Post fact-checks Trump often. So often that it’s completely bizarre to see Ocasio-Cortez actually accuse the publication of somehow being biased in favor of him. Truly, I have no idea how she was able to write that tweet and press send without thinking about how totally ridiculous she sounded, and I can’t believe that more people aren’t talking about it.

Factual errors matter — especially when they’re coming from politicians who are discussing policies and proposals that are going to actually affect Americans. It’s wrong when Trump does it, and it’s wrong when Ocasio-Cortez does it, too. Telling lies about the way that some of her pie-in-the-sky programs could be funded could easily lead to people supporting them without realizing that their support lies apart from reality. It could wind up leading to her proposals getting more popularity than they deserve based on the facts, which is particularly scary when you consider the socialist direction her proposals would take our country. She shouldn’t get a pass on spreading false information just because she is a Democrat or because she sees herself as morally superior to Trump. Facts are facts, and when you get them wrong, you deserve to be called out. All that she or any other person can do is be more careful with the information that she spreads — because false information can have real consequences.

Most Popular

Education

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN: Everything but the News

For a while, we thought MSNBC had temporarily usurped CNN as the font of fake news — although both networks had tied for the most negative coverage (93 percent of all their news reports) of President Trump’s first 100 days in office. A cynic would argue that CNN had deliberately given Trump undue coverage ... Read More
Health Care

The Absurd Campaign against Vaping

There has been a burst of panicked news, competing claims, and unfounded fear related to “vaping,” the use of electronic devices to produce an inhaled vapor, usually containing nicotine, which has emerged as a common alternative to smoking. As is commonly the case, the controversy surrounding vaping ... Read More