Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist running for Congress, has become the target of intense criticism following a report that she recently banned media from attending a public town hall.
What’s the background?
As TheBlaze reported Friday, Ocasio-Cortez, who is running for New York’s 14th congressional district, banned media from attending a town hall event in her district earlier this week. Her campaign later explained it did so because it did not want to distract from the purpose of the community meeting.
After news about the campaign’s decision began to spread online, Ocasio-Cortez addressed the controversy on Twitter, calling it a “non-story,” adding media was banned because the audience included people from vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Additionally, with this town hall non-story: it was designed to protect + invite vulnerable populations to PUBLIC discourse: immigrants, victims of domestic abuse, and so on.
We indicated previously that the event would be closed to press. Future ones are open.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 17, 2018
Campaign spokesman Corbin Trent later explained: “We wanted to help create a space where community members felt comfortable and open to express themselves without the distraction of cameras and press. These were the first set of events where the press has been excluded.”
“This is an outlier and will not be the norm,” he said.
How did media react?
While Ocasio-Cortez believed the incident was a “non-story,” national mainstream media reporters did not feel the same way — and they made their feelings very clear on social media.
Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim:
You cannot ban members of the press from events that are otherwise open to the public.
That is not how it works.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) August 17, 2018
Ali Yashar, who writes for HuffPost and New York Magazine:
NBC News reporter Benjy Sarlin:
Every politician in NYC holds constant events in immigrant communities and has done so since the dawn of time, the press covering these forums is totally normal. https://t.co/pyK7mf5JbC
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 17, 2018
Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs:
And how does the presence of reporters make people feel unsafe?
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) August 17, 2018
NPR reporter Tim Mak:
There's a difference between personal casework and a town hall event.
Public discourse requires that all members of the public be allowed to attend or review the event. That includes being open press. https://t.co/egymFdFv3V
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) August 17, 2018
New York Times correspondant Jose Del Real:
This is alarming whether it's happening on the right or the left. Having flashback to the 2016 election when me and my then-colleagues at WaPo were banned from Trump campaign events and town halls. https://t.co/vWPhiv4nku
— Jose A. Del Real (@jdelreal) August 18, 2018
Daily Beast senior editor Harry Siegel:
So people at a public event feel safer if the press is excluded, @Ocasio2018? I just don't see how that works, let alone in a world where everyone with a phone is basically a reporter. https://t.co/Qm6id66rO1
— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) August 17, 2018
Washington Examiner senior correspondent David Drucker:
Not sure this holds up. Press banned to make voters more comfortable, except anyone could have walked in as long as they claimed to be a future constituent – unless all attendees had their backgrounds were vetted. Which means it wasn’t ‘open to the public.’ => https://t.co/jDR6j1Yaes
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) August 17, 2018