SEVERE WX : Air Quality Alert - Special Weather Statement View Alerts

Ocasio-Cortez's rule-breaking style making her a target

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's outspokenness and ambitious agenda have made her a lightning rod for conservatives. CNN's Athena Jones explains why.

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 3:57 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 4:16 PM

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a talented, charismatic young politician who has struck the political world with a force and impact rarely seen among even those who have been at it for a much longer time. That said, she is very new to all of this -- she had never run for anything before she beat Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary last summer -- and she makes beginner's mistakes.

She made a big one during a sit-down with Anderson Cooper that aired on "60 Minutes" on Sunday. Here's the exchange:

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, "OK, 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.

Let's start with some context. At issue is a December tweet in which Ocasio-Cortez said that $21 trillion in the Pentagon's financial transactions "could not be traced, documented, or explained" -- and noted that such an amount of money could cover two-thirds of the total cost of Medicare for All.

But as The Washington Post's Fact Checker noted, the $21 trillion claim was quite, well, fuzzy. "It's unconvincing to try to pass this off as a rhetorical point being misread," wrote the Fact-Checker in awarding Ocasio-Cortez four Pinocchios. "She cited the $21 trillion figure and said '66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon.' That's a direct comparison. It's badly flawed."

Which, OK. We all make mistakes. Ocasio-Cortez likely skimmed the study from which the $21 trillion figure comes and saw it as a way to make a broader point about how our government is totally fine spending trillions of dollars -- much of which is not well accounted for -- on defense, but blanches at the cost of creating a national insurance program to cover all Americans.

But Ocasio-Cortez's explanation of why she said what she said -- and why she wasn't really wrong -- misses the mark. Again...

"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," she said to Cooper. "I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right."

Here's the thing: Being factually accurate and morally right isn't an either/or situation. You can do both!

And as it relates to the broader point Ocasio-Cortez is raising, which is, essentially, you know what I meant, so stop obsessing over a single data point, I would respond this way: Would she -- or any Democrat -- say the same about the White House's made-up fact that upwards of 4,000 known or suspected terrorists have attempted to enter the US illegally through the southern border?

As Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace pointed out to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, those people have been apprehended at airports, not the southern border. "The State Department says there hasn't been any terrorists found coming across the southern border," said Wallace.

Sanders' response -- "It's by air it's by land it's by sea, it's all of the above" -- employs, essentially, the same logic Ocasio-Cortez is using: My specific fact may be wrong, but the broader point I was making still holds.

The problem with that thinking is that it says that the underlying facts don't matter as long as the bigger-picture argument still coheres. Which is a very dangerous, slippery slope to tread at any time but especially in an age in which the President of the United States is actively seeking to undermine the idea that objective facts actually exist.

Fudging the facts in pursuit of "being morally right" -- as Ocasio-Cortez puts it -- assumes that moral righteousness is an agreed-upon thing. As Trump's decision to institute a travel ban or build a wall around the country show, it's not.

Ocasio-Cortez is new to all of this, yes. But the high profile she already enjoys caries with it some responsibility. Namely, to get the facts right. And when you get them wrong, to correct it as quickly as possible rather than trying to justify the error.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 612701

Reported Deaths: 7761
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1270801803
Ramsey53350911
Dakota47466477
Anoka43482465
Washington27810296
Stearns22764227
St. Louis18353320
Scott17763139
Wright16615153
Olmsted13587104
Sherburne1218596
Carver1080349
Clay830792
Rice8300112
Blue Earth772844
Crow Wing691799
Kandiyohi673185
Chisago629955
Otter Tail592687
Benton588298
Goodhue487674
Douglas480881
Mower478834
Winona466452
Itasca463968
Isanti447567
McLeod436661
Morrison429562
Beltrami411863
Nobles411750
Steele401819
Polk391372
Becker390057
Lyon366454
Carlton357158
Freeborn353634
Pine338123
Nicollet335145
Mille Lacs316856
Brown309340
Le Sueur301228
Todd289633
Cass289133
Meeker267644
Waseca241823
Martin237633
Roseau212921
Wabasha20883
Hubbard198941
Dodge19173
Renville184246
Redwood178941
Houston176516
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165323
Fillmore160510
Faribault157820
Chippewa154438
Pennington154120
Kanabec148128
Sibley147710
Aitkin140237
Watonwan13629
Rock129919
Jackson123212
Pipestone117326
Yellow Medicine115620
Pope11416
Murray107710
Swift107718
Koochiching96919
Stevens92711
Clearwater89517
Marshall89017
Lake85121
Wilkin84613
Lac qui Parle76222
Big Stone6134
Grant5958
Lincoln5873
Mahnomen5669
Norman5519
Kittson49222
Unassigned49093
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3504
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
Rochester
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 59°
Mason City
Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: °
Austin
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 59°
Charles City
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
Drier conditions for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events