Brian Stelter's coverage of AOC is about as good as you'd expect

Sunday, CNN’s media reporter Brian Stelter devoted a segment of his show to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. His coverage of her use of social media quickly became a praise-fest with almost no criticism of her attacks on journalists. In fact, Stelter amplified her confused attack on Fox News without explaining that she’d gotten it wrong.

Stelter’s first question to panelist Laura Bassett, formerly of HuffPost was, “What do you think is fueling the constant attacks on Fox against this freshman congresswoman?” Not surprisingly, Bassett informed viewers the problem was racism and sexism by white male conservatives.

“She’s got a target on her back because she ticks every box that makes conservative men uncomfortable,” Bassett said. She continued, “She’s a woman, she’s Latina, she’s young, she’s working class, she’s a millennial, she’s a Democratic Socialist…So I think in some ways she’s sort of the ideal anti-Trump and she is threatening white conservative men’s power and they’re terrified of her.” Bassett added that Fox News was using “all the tricks in the patriarchy” to “take her down.”

I’ve really come to hate this kind of lazy racial analysis from people on the left and it bothers me that this shallow argument gets nothing but praise on Stelter’s show. The opposition to AOC from the right has little to do with her being Latina and everything to do with her being a Democratic Socialist and borderline anti-Capitalist.

To be really clear, I’m a white conservative male who has written a lot about AOC and most of what I’ve written has been about her policy prescriptions and her repeated inability to explain how she would pay for them. Personally, I don’t have any power for her to threaten. This isn’t about me. It’s about her attempt to move the country somewhere to the left of Sweden both socially and economically. Many of us on the right think that would be a disaster. But here’s the key point: I also thought it was a potential disaster when Bernie Sanders presented a less extreme version of the same platform, so this is not about opposition to women of color. Again, it’s disturbing that Stelter allows a whole group of people to be attacked as racists and misogynists serving the patriarchy like automatons without offering even a hint of resistance that there might be an alternative explanation.

The segment didn’t get any better. Stelter then asked his producers to put up one of her tweets responding to Sean Hannity. There must have been confusion in the control booth because instead they put up this tweet of her attacking Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler:

As I pointed out here, this tweet was false. Glenn Kessler linked to a copy of a paper by economist Jason Furman where it appeared on the site of a right-leaning think tank. That led many to complain that the paper had been funded by the right-leaning think tank. But that wasn’t the case. As the author clarified after AOC put up this tweet, no one had paid for the paper in question and he had actually prepared it for an event hosted by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. After this attack fell apart, AOC went on to suggest the author of the paper might be a revolving door lobbyist who follows the money. When multiple people pointed out to her that this wasn’t true either, AOC finally apologized.

Stelter skipped over all of this detail and simply asked: “Is there something Trumpian about her journalism critiques?” His guest, Charlotte Alter of Time, said that, no, it’s not at all the same and once again raised the fact she is a woman as a possible explanation. “I don’t see any male members of Congress who are being fact-checked with the intensity and specificity and frequency that she is.” So CNN is throwing Glenn Kessler under the wheels of the AOC bus on the grounds that maybe he’s a misogynist too? I’m starting to see a pattern here.

Stelter then explained that when he called her “Trumpian” it was a compliment. “What Trump is to Twitter, she is to Instgram live, but then she’s also using Twitter really well. She’s using multiple platforms really well in a way that is raising her profile and is making her the subject of national coverage.” Yes, and that might explain why she’s getting fact-checked more than others who aren’t getting the same attention rather than the fact that she’s a woman.

Finally, the control booth did belatedly get the tweet up of AOC responding to Sean Hannity. It was this one:

Stelter didn’t mention this either but she mocked Fox News for referring to her “policy guy.” Here she is going on the attack against Fox (just like Stelter).

Only one problem with this. Fox didn’t choose the wording. That was the actual headline of an article published at Mediaite. In fact, if you look at the screenshot she said she wanted to frame, it has Mediaite’s logo at the top. So her clap back at Fox News was actually another incident in which AOC was deriding her critics based on false information. Oops! This was another embarrassing blunder, not a sign she’s crushing her opponents on social media.

And that’s another reason the right is all over AOC, because with the possible exception of Glenn Kessler at the Post, no one else in the media seems willing to point out her frequent mistakes. Stelter literally brought up two tweets in which she got the facts wrong and never mentioned her errors. Instead, he concluded she’s “using Twitter really well.”