Ocasio-Cortez Complains About Fact-Checking — and the Expert Doubles Down

Washington Post's Glenn Kessler gave congresswoman three Pinocchios for claim about living wages

Image Credit: Scott Eisen/Getty Images / Twitter, Glenn Kessler

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (shown above left) and The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler (above right) sparred back and forth on Twitter after the congresswoman accused Kessler of falsely fact-checking one of her very misleading claims.

The progressive Ocasio-Cortez does not like to be fact-checked. This isn’t the first time Ocasio-Cortez, who’s been in the House of Representatives all of three weeks, has fought back against fact-checkers who scrutinize her passionate claims and sometimes questionable statements.

This time around, the New York lawmaker took issue with a story Kessler published on Thursday called, “Ocasio-Cortez’s misfired facts on living wage and minimum wage.”

Kessler addressed a claim the congresswoman made during an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, in which she insisted, among other things, that the “vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage.”

“I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

But Kessler warned that Ocasio-Cortez “is sometimes fast and loose with her facts,” noting the “torrent of claims in the statement above [are] worthy of further scrutiny.”

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Kessler even noted that his team confronted Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman in a “tense conversation,” prompting her to “preempt” the fact-check by tweeting on Tuesday: “Me: ‘I don’t think billionaires should concentrate wealth while employing people who are sleeping in cars working a zillion hours to survive.’ Next day: ‘That will be TEN PINOCCHIOS to Ocasio, ‘zillion’ is not a number and I found someone who sleeps in a tent, not a car.'”

The fact-checker noted there is no known evidence supporting Ocasio-Cortez’s claim that “a vast majority” of Americans don’t make a living wage.

He also emphasized that both Walmart and Amazon pay “well above the minimum wage” — contrary to her claims.

All in all, Ocasio-Cortez earned Three Pinocchios from Kessler.

This fact-checking did not sit well with the congresswoman.

“If the point of fact-checking is to enforce some objective standard, why would @GlennKesslerWP use a Walmart-funded think tank as reference material for wage fairness? That’s like citing the foxes to fact-check the hens. Here’s 4 Geppettos for your contested Pinocchios,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Thursday, taking issue with the 2005 paper by Jason Furman that Kessler cited.

Furman served as former President Barack Obama’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Kessler replied, “Since @AOC accused The Fact Checker of relying on a Walmart-funded think tank paper when we fact-checked her, we need to set the record straight. She’s wrong. Don’t always believe what you see on Twitter.”

He added, “The article has been updated with a note explaining the provenance.”

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“Check the name of the author: Jason Furman, chairman of Council of Economic Advisers under Obama. He’s someone I have known for 20+ years and he is simply citing some basic economics. I included the link only because his discussion of the economics was detailed and thorough,” Kessler tweeted.

Ocasio-Cortez replied, “Revolving-door politics doesn’t care what admin a person worked for. The truth is, many folks come to govmnt to collect a title, & leave to collect a lobbyist check. WaPo itself touched on this by covering the Harvard Orientation. You’re legitimizing that by citing this study.”

After some more back-and forth, Ocasio-Cortez finally tweeted, “I am criticizing the rationale of saying we should trust a questioned source paper because of a standing friendship and X admin, bc neither preclude the possibility of revolving door politics — if the tweet read as though I was going after @jasonfurman specifically, I apologize.”

Check out more on all of this in the video below:

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