Ocasio-Cortez Claims Critics of Her Recent Errors Are All 'Alt-Right'—They're Not

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
July 19, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez keeps blaming the "alt-right" for attacking her for recent missteps, when the criticism of her has been far more broad-based.

Ocasio-Cortez, a budding Democratic Party star after her primary win over Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) in New York's 14th Congressional District, has maintained a high profile since last month's victory. The 28-year-old democratic socialist found herself in trouble during a Friday interview with conservative PBS program "Firing Line," stumbling on questions about Israel and the state of the economy.

Ocasio-Cortez had already accused Israel of perpetrating a "massacre" of Palestinians in May and compared Hamas rioters in Gaza to West Virginia teachers on strike. On Friday, she struggled to articulate what she meant by what she called Israel's "occupation of Palestine."

"Oh, I think what I meant is, like, the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes," she said.

Asked to expand, she said she was "not the expert in geopolitics on this issue" and said she wanted a two-state solution. Three days later, during a discussion with left-wing program "Democracy Now!," she wouldn't say she was for a two-state solution, instead saying it's a "conversation that I'm engaging with with activists right now."

Discussing the fallout alongside Democratic New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon with Mic on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez said, "I thought it was funny because the alt-right went haywire after that."

However, the remarks were widely reported on, including by left-leaning outlets like Newsweek and Haaretz. The left-leaning New York Daily News editorial board hammered Ocasio-Cortez for her conflicting responses on the two-state solution. CNN's Chris Cillizza penned a column urging Democrats to slow their roll in declaring Ocasio-Cortez the future of the party after her spat with Crowley and her badly received Israel answer.

Conservative outlets that don't fall under the "alt-right" label like The Daily WireThe Weekly Standard, the New York PostTimes of Israel and National Review also ripped her for the remarks.

Ocasio-Cortez also made head-scratching remarks about the economy in her PBS interview, claiming the unemployment rate in the U.S. was low because "everyone has two jobs."

"Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family," she said.

In the same interview, she remarked capitalism "will not always exist in the world."

MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle linked to a Daily Caller writer's video of her remarks, tweeting, "THIS WILL NOT HELP THE BLUE WAVE." Ocasio-Cortez responded that "it's important that we not give into the hysteria of the alt-right" and accused the Daily Caller of selectively splicing the clip.

She again was wrong to suggest only the "alt-right" criticized her statements.

PolitiFact rated her remark about unemployment "Pants on Fire," its most severe rating for a politician making a false statement. The fact-checking site noted the number of multiple job holders over the past year has ranged between 6 million and 7 million, compared to more than 148 million Americans with a single job. It also said the percentage of people working upwards of 60 to 80 hours a week is miniscule. rated her same statement "False."

Slate columnist Jordan Weissmann ripped Ocasio-Cortez, mourning the conservative pile-on against the candidate but saying her statements about unemployment and capitalism were "odd" and "incorrect."

In addition to conservative criticism of her economic comments, RealClearPolitics and Quartz reported on Ocasio-Cortez's answers.