Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has garnered a shocking amount of media attention about her finances since winning the election for New York’s 14th congressional district earlier this month, as pundits and journalists repeatedly remark on the soon-to-be youngest ever congresswoman’s savings, attire, and inability to afford an apartment in Washington, D.C. until she begins earning her congressional salary in January.
The latest commotion started last week, when Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign responded to a Fox News story that insinuated that she was lying about the fact that she couldn’t afford a D.C. apartment, citing a financial disclosure statement from April, in which Ocasio-Cortez reported to have at least $15,000 in savings.
Following the story’s publication, Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s director of communications, told CNBC that, in fact, the Rep.-elect has had to “dip into her savings since [the April financial disclosure form] was filed. She’s down to well below $7,000 now.”
But news coverage of Ocasio-Cortez’s finances is troubling for reasons other than exposing the reality that millennials are the poorest generation or revealing the conservative media’s apparent elitist bias toward wealthier candidates. The obsession with the finances of a young woman of color also stands in disturbingly stark contrast to the minimal coverage of President Donald Trump’s finances, who has yet to release his tax returns despite a campaign promise to do so.
This obsession is so gross. And weird. And for some reason we also haven’t seen our current president’s tax returns or financial disclosures… 🤔 https://t.co/9XmDLErxmL
— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) November 20, 2018
Although the New York Times recently published a bombshell investigative report on Trump’s history of dodging taxes, revealing “instances of outright fraud,” the news barely made a blip on conservative media. In fact, Fox News rushed to the president’s defense, with anchor Neil Cavuto calling Trump’s alleged tax fraud “creative accounting,” adding that “I don’t know if there’s a there there outside of the fact that the president benefited from having a rich father and a good marketing skill.”
The focus on Ocasio-Cortez in recent weeks reveals a racial and gendered double standard in which the Rep.-elect’s perfectly normal actions and rhetoric are overanalyzed, while Trump repeatedly seems to get away with alleged illegal conduct and lies.
It’s been nearly three years since Trump promised to release his tax returns. With Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, they may force him to do so when the new session gavels in come January.