AOC, a Sitting Member of Congress, Weaponized Her Followers in an Attempt to Silence a Free Press

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been all over the news this week following a lengthy Instagram live in which she recounted her experiences during the January 6 riots in Washington, DC. She posted the video to her YouTube channel with the title “February 1, 2021 Instagram Live: What Happened at the Capitol.”

The description reads:

My story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on Jan 6th. It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy. Thanks for making the space for me, and hope we can all make space for others to tell their stories in the weeks to come. And to those who wish to paper over their misdeeds by rushing us to all “move on” – we can move on when the individuals responsible are held to account.

As has been covered exhaustively, she said those “rushing” her to “move on” are using the tactics of abusers. She speculated that a Capitol Police officer who burst into her office to evacuate her because there was a suspicious package nearby might have actually been attempting to place her in danger. In other words, she thought this Capitol Police officer was part of a conspiracy to murder her and other Democrats. She repeatedly said we cannot move forward until there are “consequences” and that everything must be investigated, as if the FBI and other agencies aren’t investigating.

Perhaps I’ve missed the soundbites (there are so many out there), but I haven’t heard anyone admonishing people who went through what was undoubtedly a terrifying experience to simply move on less than a month later. The entire country was shaken by the images that we saw that day and the uncertainty we felt, so it’s understandable that those on the ground were much more affected by their experiences.

Then, AOC dove into her story, starting a few days before January 6. She vividly and emotionally described the scene in her office, hearing “loud, violent” banging on all of the doors leading into her office, running to hide in her office bathroom, and the fear she felt as a scary man (who turned out to be a Capitol Police officer) was banging on the bathroom door asking, “Where is she? Where is she?” She described running to a nearby office building fearing that at any time she’d turn a corner and run into a “white supremacist” or “insurrectionist” with a gun and that “would be the end.”

According to the mainstream media summation of AOC’s story, AOC was at the Capitol as armed insurrectionists stormed the halls, those insurrectionists nearly breached her office, and she had to literally run to another building in fear for her life.

The truth is, as our Nick Arama and other journalists have detailed, that AOC was not in the Capitol and hadn’t been there for at least an hour before the Capitol Police officer knocked on her door, according to the video. The truth is that AOC was in the Cannon House Office Building at the time she was evacuated, which is a bit of a walk (or subterranean walk/train ride, depending upon the path one takes) from the Capitol. According to Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), whose office is two doors down from AOC’s, the truth is that “insurrectionists never stormed [their] hallway.”

These inaccuracies in the mainstream summation of AOC’s story were partially caused by the parts of the story AOC left out for whatever reason. Given the video’s title, “What Happened at the Capitol,” viewers who are unfamiliar with the Capitol complex or where AOC’s office is located were led to believe that all of this happened in the Capitol itself. Other inaccuracies were the result of lazy or deliberately disingenuous reporting by mainstream journalists. AOC didn’t state that the “white supremacist insurrectionists” were at her door, but some alleged journalists shamefully used the passages in which AOC described the moments before the Capitol Police officer led her to evacuate to imply that rioters/insurrectionists were at her door and storming the halls of her building.

AOC caught wind of Nick’s article sometime Wednesday and wasn’t too happy. The article inspired a tweet thread from the Congresswoman accusing Nick of engaging in “the latest manipulative take on the right,” “manipulating the fact that most people don’t know the layout [of] the Capitol complex,” and adding a new supposed fact – that “The bombs Trump supporters planted surrounded our offices too.”

Further down in the thread, she accused the GOP of “digging both heels in a discrediting campaign,” low-key accusing RedState of colluding with “the GOP” in “pivoting to (again) the classic abuse playbook of ‘it’s not as bad as they say.’”

Back to AOC’s first tweet in the thread. Bombs planted by Trump supporters surrounded their offices, too? We were only aware of two devices, one at the DNC and one at the RNC. As Nick described in another article addressing AOC’s attack on Nick and RedState, those offices aren’t adjacent to Cannon, are more than a block away from Cannon, and there is no evidence that Trump supporters planted the bombs.

Now, it seems that AOC isn’t too pleased that her retaliatory attack and attempt to intimidate an independent journalist was also fact-checked. Late Wednesday, AOC sent out an email to her followers claiming that “right-wing operatives” (again, low-key accusing journalists of collusion) “are spreading flat-out lies” and misleading information about her and asking them to report these stories and posts to the social media overlords.

The email reads (emphasis mine):

As we speak, right-wing operatives with millions of followers on social media are spreading flat-out lies and misleading information about Alexandria. But with your help, we can force Twitter and Facebook to take action and enforce their own rules.

What’s so frustrating about these attacks is that, once the truth comes out, so few people get to hear it. Hundreds of thousands, or potentially millions, of people will have already seen already seen or shared the misleading tweets or fake news articles.

We need your help. Here’s what you can do — to help us combat this campaign of disinformation and others in the future:

Scan your social media to find posts with this misleading information, especially those using the trending hashtag. Don’t tweet any hashtags yourself, because we don’t want to spread them further!

Identify any posts that are threatening or harassing and use the built-in report features to flag them for moderators. Facebook and Twitter both have built in tools for reporting posts and tweets that break the rules.

The sad thing is that a lot of damage has already been done. People have already been misled and radicalized. They believe the lies to a point where their hatred could someday boil over into violence. This is exactly what led to thousands of enraged rioters storming the Capitol building on January 6th.

But we can do something about it. We can help set the record straight when people spread falsehoods. We can keep calling out the Photoshopped tweets, fake news articles, and misleading posts when we see them.

So, if you can, help us scan social media tonight and report those spreading this disinformation campaign.

Thank you for all you do, Team AOC

This isn’t a typical call-to-action email from a politician to her supporters, folks. This is a sitting Member of Congress asking her supporters to engage in a targeted harassment campaign aimed at suppressing a free press. She’s not making a law “abridging the freedom…of the press,” but by weaponizing her supporters to attempt to memory hole an unflattering — but true — article by having it scrubbed from what serves as our public square, she’s sure coming close to it. AOC hasn’t reached the level where she can make a call to Facebook and Twitter and have a story completely suppressed, but if she is allowed to behave in this manner, are we really that far from a world in which any Democrat can make that call and have it obeyed?

AOC might claim that she had nothing to do with this email, but the fact is that she sent out tweets during the day Wednesday that mirrored the messages contained in it. So she either took part in its composition or her tweets inspired the email.

The action taken by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign is a blatant attempt to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by the press and by any individual who decides to share the story or those views. I realize this last sentence is probably written in vain, but her action should be condemned by other Members of Congress and clear guidance given that no such action should ever be taken by any elected official in the future.