Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has suggested that members of Congress clamp down on the free press, and “rein in” the distribution of misinformation or disinformation.
In an Instagram Live video, Ocasio-Cortez responded to a question asking if there has been any discussion in Congress about truth and reconciliation, or media initiatives to help with healing the political divide currently tearing America apart.
“What I can say is that there’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed, but it seems to be more investigatory in style rather than truth and reconciliation and so I think that’s an interesting concept for us to explore,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.
“And I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is a part of what happened here, and we’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said.
“It’s one thing to have differing opinions but it’s another thing entirely to just say things that are false and so that’s something that we’re looking into,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
Following her remarks, Ocasio-Cortez faced criticism from journalists and media analysts who took her suggestions to task. Speaking on Fox News, media analyst Joe Concha noted that the progressive Congresswoman has downplayed making false statements in the past when confronted over her own falsehoods.
“Let’s unpack this proposal, she wants to basically establish a Ministry of Truth, we’ve all read ‘1984’ and, you know, to determine what is truth and what is not. So who sits on this committee exactly? Eric Swalwell? Adam Schiff? Because they seem to have some challenges when it comes to telling the truth,” Concha said.
“How does Ms. Ocasio-Cortez define truth exactly? She was asked in a [“60 Minutes”] interview, this was a couple of years ago after she was fact-checked on some very dubious claims, about those particular claims and she said, ‘People want to really blow up one figure here, or a word there, I would argue they are missing the forest for the trees, I think there is a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, semantically correct than being morally right.’”
“Oh, so it’s not about being factually correct, it’s what she sees as being right and wrong from a moral perspective,” Concha continued. “Let’s say I want to argue against defunding the police or adding two states, which therefore would add four Democratic senators. Does that make me morally wrong and therefore do I have to testify before this committee? Am I pulled off the air? That’s the thing when you have a Democratically controlled Washington — Congress, Senate and White House — this sort of thing in terms of government regulating speech should stay in China, or stay in North Korea or, I don’t know, ‘1984.’”
Reason editor Robby Soave condemned Ocasio-Cortez’s suggestions, which he described as “unconstitutional” in an article titled “No, AOC, It's Not the Government's Job to 'Rein in Our Media.’”
“It's critical that the law not be changed; the media must be free to vigorously criticize the president, Congress, or any other aspect of the government, even if the reporting is sometimes wrong or off-base. Similarly, addressing disinformation should be a job for private platforms and individual readers, not the government,” Soave wrote.