Liberals have long believed in the motto: “Do as I say, not as I do.” The latest example of that philosophy took place on Sunday, when rising Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the occasion of a campaign “listening tour” to prevent members of the media from attending the event, which was otherwise open to the public. Will other journalists notice this? When the socialist appeared on CBS This Morning, the co-hosts tossed softballs to her.
According to an article written by Christopher Barca, the editor with the weekly Queens Chronicle newspaper sang the Democratic candidate’s praises:
In the seven weeks since she pulled off one of the most remarkable upsets in recent American political history -- defeating longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) by 15 points in June’s Democratic primary -- Ocasio-Cortez has become a political star.
Soon after her victory came numerous profiles in high-profile publications like the New York Times and Rolling Stone, guest hosting shows on the online progressive news network The Young Turks and appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Barca also noted: “She has also traveled the country from Kansas to Hawaii in recent weeks to campaign -- sometimes with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) -- for fellow progressive candidates running in their own primaries.”
Turning his attention to the local events, Barca stated that “the Democratic nominee in the 14th Congressional District and the dozens of area residents who attended the ‘listening tour’ visit talked about race, immigration, health care, disability rights and housing.”
“But unless you were in the room on Sunday, you won’t know what specific community problems were mentioned or how Ocasio-Cortez planned to address them once she is sworn in,” the editor declared.
The reason given for the change was: “]W]hen Ocasio-Cortez returned to the district for a Bronx community meeting with prominent health-care activist Ady Barkan last Tuesday, her campaign manager, Vigie Ramos Rios, later told the press that she was “mobbed” by reporters, “even though we said no Q&A and no one-on-one [interviews].”
According to “campaign spokesman Corbin Trent, that unwanted attention led to a press ban both for last Wednesday’s listening tour stop in the Bronx and Sunday’s in Corona,” Barca added.
Nevertheless, social media users in attendance said that topics ranged from affordable housing and charter schools to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s interest in the building of a soccer stadium.
But on Monday, the situation became even more bizarre when the candidate tweeted that those events are “intended for lively, compassionate discourse with a diversity of viewpoints.”
Trent later explained: “We wanted to help create a space where community members felt comfortable and open to express themselves without the distraction of cameras and press.”
“These were the first set of events where the press has been excluded,” Trent said. “This is an outlier and will not be the norm. We’re still adjusting our logistics to fit Alexandria’s national profile.”
Barca then addressed the campaign’s apparent double standard by asking “if it was hypocritical for Ocasio-Cortez to ban the press from an in-district community meeting after weeks of interviews with prominent publications and rallying with candidates in other states.”
Trent responded that the campaign “is committed to maintaining a positive relationship with area media outlets.”
He then explained the campaign’s strategy in greater detail:
After our primary victory, the campaign had what we saw as a unique and limited opportunity for Alexandria to use her elevated platform to speak about issues affecting our district to the national media, and to campaign for other progressive candidates around the country.
By working to get other progressive candidates elected, Alexandria will be securing more national voting power for the people of Queens and the Bronx.
Barca also quoted the candidate as saying: “We’ve been polite with racist people for far too long. There’s a cultural idea that talking about race is divisive, ... but I don’t think it’s divisive unless you’re a racist.”
Of course, we probably can’t imagine how deafening the tumult and chaos would be if a Republican claimed being “mobbed by reporters” and considered cameras and the press a “distraction” from a rising “political star.”