Washington Monthly | The Best Answer to Fox News’ Obsession with AOC Is to Elect More Democrats Like AOC
Fox, headed by Rupert Murdoch, is best known for providing right-leaning news and political talk shows, like Justice Jeanine and Hannity. The New York representative was mentioned at least 3,181 times on the network between February 25 and April 7.
Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, took to Twitter to respond. “Fox News brought me up 3,000+ times in *6 weeks.* That’s how hard they’re fighting against dignified healthcare, wages, & justice for all; and turning their firepower on the youngest Congresswoman in history to do it. Too bad for them, cause we don’t flinch. #ForThePeople.”
Countless pixels have flooded the internet speculating why conservative infotainment can’t get enough of their AOC fix. Some speculate that it’s a conscious ploy to drive down her favorability rating among those susceptible to right-wing propaganda–after all, if enough liberals either haven’t heard of her or aren’t sure how they feel, but every conservative in America thinks she is Satan incarnate, then their propaganda networks can misleadingly claim she is unpopular. Other analyses suggest that she is catnip for the darkest obsessive fears and longings of Fox News’ viewership: young, attractive, non-white, whip smart and fearlessly outspoken both on the moral imperatives of our time and the shortcomings of conservative ideological and policy frameworks. For a segment of the population paranoid about being “replaced,” AOC is almost the perfect embodiment of the generation about to replace them: the sort of younger, cooler person who they wish both kowtowed to and respected them, and whom they wish wasn’t in the country in the first place.
There’s likely some truth to all of this. But while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is by far the primary target of the conservative infotainment complex, she’s not the only one. Progressive congresswomen from Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar to Katie Porter and Kate Hill born the brunt of attacks, each in their own ways and for their own reasons. The assaults on Ilhan Omar have been particularly dangerous and gross. But it’s all for the same reason: to whip up their deplorable base, to marginalize and instill fear in their targets, and to make other candidates like them think twice about trying to get elected.
But it’s important to recognize that conservatives can only win this battle if Democrats back down, fail to defend their own and steer clear of electing more like them. There isn’t a single persuadable voter in the electorate who might vote for Democrats if they abandon Ilhan Omar, but will vote Republican if Democrats defend her. There isn’t a single independent voter who will vote for Trump over Biden, Harris or Sanders just because Ocasio-Cortez is pushing for a Green New Deal.
For instance, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a terrible error in trying to blacklist consultants who engage in primaries against sitting incumbents. Joe Crowley was the wrong fit for his district, and Ocasio-Cortez injected much-needed new blood not only into local leadership but into the Democratic caucus overall by defeating him. There are many other Democrats sitting in deep blue districts and states who are well out of step with their much more progressive constituents and could use a good challenge from younger, better attuned candidates–particularly women candidates and candidates of color.
It’s hard for Fox News to pick specific targets for character assassination if there are too many targets to pick from, and if the Democratic caucus remains united in their defense. The best way to counter the Fox News obsession with AOC, Ilhan Omar and their allies is to elect a lot more like them at all levels of government.