AOC spent yesterday fighting with the Washington Post's fact-checker, today she (sort of) apologized

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been in a multi-day feud with Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler. It all started with a comment she made during that MLK day interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates. We wrote about a couple of highlights from that here (Billionaires are immoral) and here (America is dystopian). Kessler decided to fact-check another statement from the same interview and apparently contacted her office to give her a chance to back up her claims. First, here’s the quote he examined:

I think it’s wrong that a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.

Kessler says that as soon as her office became aware of the pending fact-check, she began complaining about it on Twitter: “Ocasio-Cortez is media-savvy and appears to have tried to preempt this fact-check shortly after we had a tense conversation with her spokesman. She tweeted…”

So before the fact-check was even published, she was softening up the ground around Kessler. The fact-check published yesterday did indeed find she had made some false and misleading claims. Here’s the conclusion:

Ocasio-Cortez deserves credit for using her high profile to bring attention to income inequality. However, she undermines her message when she plays fast and loose with statistics. A lot of Americans do not earn enough for a living wage, but we cannot find evidence that it is the majority. Amazon and Walmart pay well above the minimum wage, contrary to her statement, and it is tendentious to claim those companies get some sort of a wealth transfer from the public when such benefits flow to all low-wage workers in many companies. Overall, she earns Three Pinocchios.

AOC’s fans on the left immediately took issue with the conclusions. In particular, they focused in on Kessler’s link to a 2005 paper by economist Jason Furman which he used to make a point. That paper appeared on a website for the Mackinac Center, which is a free market think tank in Michigan which leans to the right. AOC’s defenders jumped on this arguing it was unfair to cite a paper paid for by a right-leaning think tank which took money from Wal-Mart to defend Wal-Mart. Note, the tweet that AOC was highlighting has been protected as of today, but her tweet reiterating the claim (and mocking Kessler) is still there:

Kessler argued that the author of the paper had formerly chaired President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, i.e. he’s not a right-winger.

AOC continued to mock Kessler, ignoring the point that Furman isn’t equivalent to a fox fact-checking the hens.

She then argued that Furman’s Obama admin track record didn’t matter because he could be just another revolving-door lobbyist. Kessler replied with a link to his page on Harvard’s website, pointing out he’s not a lobbyist:

Finally, last night, Furman himself weighed in and pointed out that a) his paper wasn’t funded by anyone and b) it was actually written for an event hosted by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

So AOC’s initial claim about this being from a Walmart-funded think tank was not accurate. It appears the Mackinac Center simply reposted the paper on their website. Today, an author for the Post suggested AOC might want to apologize for her insinuations about him and she did, sort of:

Meanwhile, Kessler added a note to his fact-check and pointed out AOC’s false accusations about the paper he linked.

You would think that might be the end of it but no. This morning AOC is still claiming victory by citing a response to Kessler published at Jacobin (an online anti-capitalist magazine):

And here she is RTing someone demanding the fact-check be retracted. Note, he’s citing the same Jacobin piece by the same author cross-posted at another site:

Bottom line: AOC jumped on a false claim about a paper cited in a fact-check critical of her. Then she doubled-down suggesting the author might be a revolving-door lobbyist. Then she finally apologized for the insinuation when pressed by someone at the Post. But she’s still claiming victory over Kessler as if none of that mattered. Once again with AOC, it seems being “morally right” is more important to her than being factually accurate. That certainly seems to play well with her admirers, including the many in the media.