In one six-week period, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was mentioned 3,181 times on Fox News and Fox Business. That’s an average of 75 times a day.
Not a single day went by between Feb. 25 and April 7 in which the conservative networks did not mention the Democratic socialist lawmaker from New York — repeatedly — according to Media Matters for America.
Since then, she’s garnered nearly endless coverage, both on conservative and liberal news outlets.
She’s become the darling of the Democratic Party. Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee, has called her the “future of our party.” Former Secretary of State John Kerry recently sang her praises, too. “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has in fact offered more leadership in one day or in one week than President Trump has in his lifetime on this subject,” said the failed 2004 Democratic presidential candidate about climate change.
But has she? Has she provided “leadership” on — anything? And if not, why on Earth does she get so much coverage?
AOC, as she is known, has millions of followers on social media, and she’s on TV almost non-stop, holding court on cable news stations and getting comfy on all the liberal late-night talk show couches. But she has sponsored or co-sponsored just two bills in the House since she took office.
One bill, which she dubbed the Green New Deal after FDR’s momentous Depression-era New Deal package, came in with a hefty $93 trillion price tag over 10 years. When the bill went to the Senate floor for a vote in March, the measure failed 57-to-0. Every Republicans and four Democrats voted against the legislation, and the rest of the Democrats, fearing consequences if they supported it, simply voted “present.”
Not exactly a tour de force start.
Of course, she has been in the House only since Jan. 6. And she does sit on several powerful committees, despite her lack of tenure — the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Financial Services Committee, which isn’t bad for a newcomer.
But for all the coverage she has generated, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t actually done anything. Dozens of other Democrats were elected in November with AOC, and they haven’t received one minute of news coverage or one drop of ink in headlines.
AOC is not loved by all in the Democratic Party. While some are embracing her — at least those on the progressive side of the Democratic caucus — many others are keeping their distance. After the release of the Green New Deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said dismissively, “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive, the green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”
And there’s a reason some are hesitant to be mentioned in the same breath with AOC. Although the 22 Democrats now vying for the Democratic presidential nomination are lurching hard left, few, except for Sens. Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have gone quite as far as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. The longtime politicians know that while they may have to shift left to win the nomination, they’ll have to rush back to the middle come general election time.
So what’s up with the breathless coverage from conservative media? It’s a simple — and time-tested — concept: They’re seeking to make one person the face of the entire party.
Hillary Clinton did so with Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In fact, it can be argued that her campaign made Mr. Trump into the force he became.
An email released in November 2016 by WikiLeaks showed how the Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) campaign set out to make Trump the face of the Republican Party.
“Our hope is that the goal of a potential HRC campaign and the DNC would be one-in-the-same: to make whomever the Republicans nominate unpalatable to a majority of the electorate.”
The plan called for forcing “all Republican candidates to lock themselves into extreme conservative positions that will hurt them in a general election.”
“In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,” the Clinton campaign wrote.
Named as “pied piper” candidates — Mr. Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.
“We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to take them seriously,” the Clinton campaign concluded.
The HRC campaign played the media just right: They took Trump seriously, even made him the face of the Republican Party.
That didn’t work out so well.
So, that’s why the conservative media is covering the 29-year-old former bartender from Brooklyn so heavily.
But wait, what happened the last time one party sought to make a “pied piper” the face of the campaign?
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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