If a person were to get all of their political information from Fox News — take, for example, the president of the United States — that person could very well believe that the most potent threat to America’s delicate democracy is not the rise in white supremacist violence within its borders nor the alleged electoral interference from without. Enemy number one has been anointed, and it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Fox News’ fixation with Ocasio-Cortez is undeniable. The freshman congresswoman from New York has acknowledged as much, referring to the network as “AOC TMZ”:
The reason people know more is bc Fox News has turned into “AOC TMZ” (no offense to TMZ), so awareness is growing w/ GOPers.@JaneMayerNYer has reported deeply on this propaganda machine + it will be aimed at any Dem they want. Nothing changes that.
We can’t be scared by that.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 16, 2019
But Ocasio-Cortez’s message is about lifting up everyone — Medicare for all, universal basic income, a Green New Deal to save the entire planet, and so on — and her responses are in line with that vision. People sometimes cite social media prowess as something Trump and Ocasio-Cortez have in common. But Trump’s standard operating procedure is invective at all costs, even against members of his own party. Ocasio-Cortez’s move is, whenever possible, to pivot to positivity, even as Fox News dedicates more and more of its programming to willfully misinterpreting her policy proposals.
In a recent interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she was asked about the Fox News obsession with her. “Are you surprised by the speed with which they seem to have shifted all their attention and programming to you?” Meyers asked.
“I mean, it’s weird,” she said. “And why are so many grown men just obsessed with this 29-year-old?”
Given what the American people know about President Trump’s television consumption habits — he all but has cable TV pumped directly into his veins, and typically tweets ideas as if they were his own just minutes after those concepts are articulated by Fox’s talking heads — it is not a surprise that the Trump family shares the network’s disgust with (or, one could suggest, fear of) the young, charismatic, social-media-savvy democratic socialist.
Thursday, President Trump held a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his first since the release of the Attorney General Barr’s brief summary of the Mueller Report. About two years ago, it was almost certain that the crowds assembled would have been chanting “lock her up!” about Trump’s opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton. This time, the rallying cry was “AOC sucks!” (It should be noted that AOC, unlike 16 or so other Democrats, is not running for president in 2020.)
Donald Trump, Jr., the man who reportedly almost had a different name because his father feared his progeny could be “a loser,” was warming up the audience before the president took the stage.
As the Washington Post reports:
“Think about the fact that every mainstream, leading Democratic contender is taking the advice of a freshman congresswoman who three weeks ago didn’t know the three branches of government,” the president’s adult son said, referring to the enthusiasm with which Democratic presidential aspirants have embraced the Green New Deal, the climate plan sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). “I don’t know about you guys, but that’s pretty scary.”
He looked down at his notes to continue, but when he heard the chant, he paused to take it in, his face breaking into a broad grin as he gazed out at the crowd and nodded.
“You guys, you’re not very nice,” he said, pretending to admonish the audience. “And neither is what that policy would do to this country.”
It is not too surprising that either Trump would lead rallies that essentially require a woman in absentia to play the villain against whom the president is the valiant hero.
But in return, Ocasio-Cortez’s strategy has been to largely avoid mimicking the the Trumps’ vitriol. Her response to the Post article about the “AOC sucks” chant was to tweet that she’d be fighting for everyone’s right to health care anyway.
That’s okay – I’ll fight for their right to healthcare anyway. https://t.co/xvp76xoPVT
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 29, 2019
During a Friday night town hall on MSNBC, she stuck to that approach: When an audience member called former Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, a “moron,” Ocasio-Cortez cut in, calling the remark “unacceptable” and then turning to Inglis to add, “And that’s the difference between me and Trump.”
Let’s debate, not debase. ✌🏽 https://t.co/QqmRpT92NF
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 30, 2019
At that same town hall, host Chris Hayes brought up the conservative addiction to Ocasio-Cortez content, specifically her advocacy for the Green New Day, calling it “24-hour AOC GND.”
She said she was “one hundred percent” expecting that exact kind of response. Well, maybe not exactly that kind. “Well, I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves.”