Last night, we saw a rare glimpse of what happens when you refuse to settle for Conventionally Electable or Better Than the Republican in the political arena: Latinx socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a decisive victory over New York congressman Joe Crowley, a Democratic kingmaker who was widely viewed as a frontrunner to replace Nancy Pelosi at the top of the party. Her victory was a stunning rebuke of conventional wisdom—she was outspent by Crowley more than 10-to-one and ran an unabashedly socialist campaign to abolish ICE and offer Medicare for All.
With these facts in mind, you could perhaps begin to forgive notable members of the mainstream media for being caught exceptionally flat-footed (with some exceptions) on Ocasio-Cortez, if only they weren’t so ungracious about their obvious ignorance.
Let’s start with the tweet from the wire service of record announcing Ocasio-Cortez’s victory, in which the Associated Press couldn’t even be bothered to name her:
Things didn’t improve much by this morning. In Axios AM, my morning newsletter of choice to win the day, Mike Allen did declare Ocasio-Cortez’s victory his “1 big thing,” but then went on to repeatedly call her “liberal.”
NO!!!!! The point is that she’s a leftist, an activist, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Crowley and his ilk identify as liberals. It’s safe to say, at this point, that much of the groundswell around Ocasio-Cortez stemmed from the fact that she was not offering more of the same bullshit the Democrats always try to sell us—a critical distinction that helped her win.
Allen then turned for analysis of this triumph by a leftist woman of color to the following people: a “senior Democratic aide,” “Matt Bennett of the center-left Third Way,” and “Matt Miller, Obama administration alumnus.” The laziness and blindness in these choices is off the charts.
Meanwhile, the New York Times, which doesn’t appear to have run any standalone stories about Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, save for an editorial castigating Crowley for skipping out on debates, fared much worse, as we’ve come to expect.
The Gray Lady ran a piece Wednesday morning cleverly headlined “Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? A 28-Year-Old Democratic Dragon Slayer,” that, while admirable, came a few months too late. The tardiness was emphasized by the fact that the Times couldn’t even produce its own biographical information about Ocasio-Cortez, instead linking out to The Intercept, which covered the race early and often. From the Times story (emphasis mine):
The daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a Bronx-born father, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez earned a degree in economics and international relations from Boston University but worked as a waitress and bartender after graduation to supplement her mother’s income as a house cleaner and bus driver, according to The Intercept. Her father, a small-business owner, had died three years earlier of cancer; after his death, her family fought foreclosure and her mother and grandmother eventually moved to Florida.
The Times also claimed in the piece that “national publications” largely ignored her race—which is true, if your definition of “national publications” is “places like the New York Times”—without claiming ownership of its role in driving that dynamic, a note of hypocrisy that former Times executive editor Jill Abramson was happy to point out:
Then came the clueless pundits who, bless their hearts, simply couldn’t have seen this coming.
“Pretty much all of political journalism,” you say?? Rather than saying something so obviously untrue, why not own it and move on? (Which, to be fair, is an approach Reid has struggled with.)
CNN’s Brian Stelter, who lives in New York City, also told on himself, saying he’d never even heard of Ocasio-Cortez until about a week ago, a message that was ripe for a firm dressing-down:
Plus whatever this was from the Pod Save guy:
But lest you accuse me (that is, even more so, please do not email me) of being a bitter crone, I’ll leave you with this moment of pure joy and beauty, shared by so many last night, in which Ocasio-Cortez’s face changes as she sees the results flash on screen: