Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez banned press from attending her town hall event in Queens, New York, according to The Queens Chronicle. Her campaign claimed that the move was necessary after she was “mobbed” by reporters at a Bronx community meeting. They responded by barring the press from a listening tour stop in the Bronx on Wednesday and the event in Corona, Queens Sunday.
Ocasio-Cortez, 28, gained prominence in the party after her stunning June primary victory over fourth-ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley (NY).
“We wanted to help create a space where community members felt comfortable and open to express themselves without the distraction of cameras and press,” campaign spokesman Corbin Trent told The Chronicle of the press ban. “These were the first set of events where the press has been excluded. This is an outlier and will not be the norm. We’re still adjusting our logistics to fit Alexandria’s national profile.”
While initially a media darling, Ocasio-Cortez has had a bit of a rocky time in the national spotlight after she made a series of inaccurate claims regarding unemployment numbers and defense spending despite touting her economics degree.
Ocasio-Cortez said in a PBS interview that “unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family."
Both Politifact and Factcheck.org rated Ocasio-Cortez’s claim about unemployment as false, pointing out that “over the past 12 months, the number of multiple job holders has ranged between 6 million and 7 million. That compares to more than 148 million Americans who are employed in a single job.”
Later, she tried to walk back the remarks by claiming that they were really about low wages.
Her campaign spokesman told The Chronicle that, despite the press bans, they are trying to have a good relationship with local media, but Ocasio-Cortez had a “unique and limited opportunity” to help progressive candidates after her primary win.
“The campaign had what we saw as a unique and limited opportunity for Alexandria to use her elevated platform to speak about issues affecting our district to the national media, and to campaign for other progressive candidates around the country,” he said. “By working to get other progressive candidates elected, Alexandria will be securing more national voting power for the people of Queens and the Bronx.”
In the process of campaigning for her fellow progressives, she accidentally declared that they would “flip this seat red” in Kansas in a video with fellow Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on behalf of losing candidate Brent Welder. However, despite presumably straightening out which color she was campaigning for, most of the candidates Ocasio-Cortez endorsed in this speaking tour lost their primaries.
Last week, Ocasio-Cortez compared a debate request from conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to "catcalling," arguing that she didn't owe him a response.