Accuracy in Media

Newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday was panned by Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake who said the defense of her falsehoods was “very bad.”

Ocasio-Cortez who was labeled a “shiny object” by outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) stumbled when asked by Anderson Cooper about being given four Pinocchios by The Washington Post Fact Checker for her claims about $21 trillion in waste at the Pentagon.

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, “Okay, 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.

The problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s claim is that she either didn’t fully read or understand the article she was referencing in her tweet because if she had she would have known that the $21 trillion estimate isn’t necessarily waste, but sloppy accounting.  It also includes money spent and received by the Pentagon. In addition, the $32 billion estimate for Medicare-for-all covers the first 10 years of the program while the Pentagon figure is for 17 years.  Apples and oranges.

A DOD spokesman told the Post after the Fact Checker debunked Ocasio-Cortez’s claims that “DoD hasn’t received $21  trillion in (nominal) appropriated funding across the entirety of American history.”

Ocasio-Cortez does herself another disservice according to Blake by saying that people should care less about the facts and more about being “morally right” and treating it as a zero-sum game and saying “Well, maybe I was wrong, but at least my cause is just.”


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