It appears that conservative media may have met their match. It may not be a pleasant thought, but since November of last year, various right-leaning news outlets have been making some of the same mistakes as their counterparts on the left.
President Trump possesses the rare ability to frustrate the media’s attempts to unfairly smear him. In many cases, it seems that their attacks bounce off of him like bullets off Superman’s chest.
Despite their incessant whining, caterwauling, and petulant attacks, his approval ratings have remained relatively healthy, given the circumstances. Even better, the president not only repels their attacks, but manages to use their most deadly weapons against them.
But the president is not the only politician who has this uncommon skill. That’s right, the Democrats have their own version of Trump in their ranks – Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and whether you like it or not, she is using this talent to great effect against the GOP.
The hubbub over a recently-surfaced video from her college days demonstrates this reality.
Ocasio-Cortez’s Dancing Video
Earlier this month, a supposedly right-leaning Twitter user posted a tweet of a video featuring a younger Ocasio-Cortez dancing on the roof of a building at the university she attended. The tweet read: “Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is.”
The video, which was posted on YouTube in 2010, was a parody of a scene in the 1980s movie The Breakfast Club. In the video, the now-lawmaker is seen showing off her dance moves with her friends. It was part of a trend in which people recreated scenes from movies made in the ‘80s. In short, it was a bunch of kids having fun.
When the video became popular, the establishment media dutifully did what they do best: Used it to smear conservatives. Here are some of the headlines:
- The New York Times: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dancing Video Was Meant as a Smear, but It Backfired”
- Newsweek: “Conservatives Mock Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for College Dancing”
- CNN: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responds to dance video critics with more dancing”
- Vox: “Conservatives’ obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s high school, explained”
Judging by these headlines, you might get the impression that conservatives had a collective meltdown over the video similar to when President Trump made that sarcastic remark about Vladimir Putin awhile back. But guess what each of these stories had in common?
Not a single one of them posted any negative remarks from a conservative other than the one who originally posted the video. Why? Because there simply weren’t any prominent conservatives who had any criticism to offer. Indeed, many right-leaning social media users said they thought the dancing was adorable, despite their political differences with the dancer. Of course, the media’s usual deceptions are no surprise. But it is interesting to look at how Ocasio-Cortez handled the situation.
AOC Shows Top-Notch Persuasion
I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous.
Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too! 💃🏽
Have a great weekend everyone 🙂 pic.twitter.com/9y6ALOw4F6
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 4, 2019
In response to the tweet, Ocasio-Cortez posted a video in which she does a short dance to the song “War” by Edwin Starr. In the tweet, she wrote:
“I hear the GOP thinks women dancing are scandalous.
Wait till they find out Congresswomen dance too! 💃🏽
Have a great weekend everyone :)”
Now, you might be thinking: “But that’s a dishonest narrative!” You’re probably right, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because her reaction isn’t too far from the truth, and it is an example of masterful persuasion. The harsh reality is that conservative media currently has an unhealthy fixation on Ocasio-Cortez. Right-leaning news outlets are about as obsessed with her as Bernie Sanders is with everyone else’s money.
…the fixation on Ocasio-Cortez is not damaging to her agenda.
In many cases, the conservative media makes principled criticisms of Ocasio-Cortez’s ideas. But the reports on her are becoming increasingly petty and irrelevant. In November 2018, a reporter working with The Washington Examiner snapped a picture of the newly-elected representative from behind and posted a tweet savaging her for her wardrobe. Other right-wing sites slammed her for discussing her Jewish ancestry. When she first won her election, conservative outlets went after her over a trivial dispute she had over tips when she worked as a bartender.
While the dancing video may not have been an example of unfounded outrage on the right, her criticism still highlights the fact that the conservative media has often gone over the top in their attacks. This is a principle that Dilbert creator and persuasion expert Scott Adams calls “directionally accurate,” meaning that her response to this specific situation may not be 100% apt, but it is generally valid. In the end, the fixation on Ocasio-Cortez is not damaging to her agenda.Indeed, it only makes her stronger.
Of course, this is not to say that conservatives should not criticize her when she earns it. But they must do so in a way that is effectively exploiting her weaknesses. Instead of squabbling over her wardrobe choices, they should focus on the fact that she cannot provide an adequate defense of her policies. Conservatives should keep pointing out the fact that she clearly has no viable plan for executing her proposals. These are the points that will prove detrimental to her cause, not the fact that she once wore expensive shoes. In the end, it is her ideas that will sink her, not her silly tweets.