Ocasio-Cortez Blasts PolitiFact, WaPo for Fact Checking: 'I Say True Things All the Time'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Rick Loomis/Getty Images)
January 7, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Monday blasted multiple fact-checking media sources for their coverage of her statements, saying, "I say true things all the time."

Ocasio-Cortez, who was sworn into office last Thursday, is evidently not happy about the scrutiny she's received from fact-checkers. In a Twitter thread, she targeted the Washington Post and Politifact, saying "false equivalency [and] bias creeps in" with their fact checks.

"For example, it looks like @PolitiFact has fact-checked Sarah Huckabee Sanders and myself the *same* amount of times: 6. She’s been serving for almost 2 years. I’ve served 4 days," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Why is she fact-checked so little? Is she adhering to some standard we don’t know about?"

In one tweet, Ocasio-Cortez linked to a Salon article from last month that highlighted the Washington Post's "false equivalence" of rating her "as bad as" President Donald Trump. The example the author used was from early December when the Post ran a lengthy fact check on her tweet about how $21 trillion in "Pentagon accounting errors" could have paid for 66 percent of the Medicare-for-all proposal. Salon also called the Post's headline "blunt" and said she simply "failed to properly capture the fact that the missing Pentagon money included both inputs and outlays."

She also went after Politifact for giving officials' statements "true" ratings frequently, listing Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) as an example.

"I say true things all the time - I’d hope most do. When does Politifact choose to rate true statements? Is there a guide? I’d be happy to repost if there is," she said.

Fact checkers from Politifact and the Post responded to Ocasio-Cortez's tweets to provide her with their rubrics and offer insight into how they decide who to fact check.

Sal Rizzo, a Post reporter, responded with a thread on their process.

Politifact's Twitter account responded to explain its process also, saying, "We focus on significant statements likely to be repeated by others that we think people will question whether or not the information is true."

"One of the biggest challenges for us is that for all the work we do (1,500 fact-checks published last year) there are only about 12 of us. It's probably accurate to say we wish we could fact-check every politician more. Here's to hoping to cover more ground in 2019," Politifact tweeted.

Gleen Kessler, a columnist for the Post's "Fact Checker" noted that they have fact-checked Ocasio-Cortez twice compared to checking 7,645 Trump claims.

She responded, "I’m not challenging that I was checked - I think the check is a very fair one to masked, and that the coverage illuminated the issue far more than my tweet did."

"I *am* confused by the equivalence of the check to other similarly-rated claims that seem much more severe," she continued.

She later defended her "nuanced conversation," saying that "questioning where takes come from is nowhere near the same as undermining the extraordinary work reporters and journalists do as 'fake news.'"

Ocasio-Cortez's scrutiny of fact checks was prompted Monday by a spat with CNN editor-at-large Chris Clizza on Twitter. Clizza, responding to comments she made during a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, wrote a piece scrutinizing the congresswoman's "very slippery slope on facts."  The New York Democrat complained Clizza didn't include her remarks in their entirety when he tweeted out his analysis. The piece did include the full context of her widely-panned remarks.

Cooper: One of the criticisms of you is that— that your math is fuzzy. The Washington Post recently awarded you four Pinocchios—
Ocasio-Cortez: Oh my goodness—
Cooper: —for misstating some statistics about Pentagon spending?
Ocasio-Cortez: If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they're missing the forest for the trees. I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.

Cooper: But being factually correct is important—

Ocasio-Cortez: It's absolutely important. And whenever I make a mistake. I say, "OK, this was clumsy." and then I restate what my point was. But it's— it's not the same thing as— as the President lying about immigrants. It's not the same thing, at all.

She proceeded to question Cillizza's defense before launching into her scrutiny of fact checkers.