Jan 10, 2019, 4:27 PM ET

Rookie Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez targeted with fake news


As freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez adjusts to the limelight of Capitol Hill, the New York Democrat's affinity for sharing the experience on social media has generated overwhelming interest, not just from her fans but her critics as well.

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Her interview Sunday on the highly-rated CBS program “60 Minutes” apparently didn't provide enough content for an internet troll who generated a false narrative featuring a purported nude photo of the self-described "radical," progressive superstar.

PHOTO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, poses with all House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins.Andrew Harnik/AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, poses with all House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins.

Since bursting onto the political scene with a major primary upset of a veteran Democrat, Ocasio-Cortez, 29, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress has become a prime target for her detractors, mainly conservatives, on the internet.

Her latest high-profile moment came Wednesday evening, as Ocasio-Cortez slammed the conservative media website The Daily Caller for spreading a story in a tweet that stated: “Here’s The Photo Some Described As A Nude Selfie Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

The photo is not of Ocasio-Cortez.

The Daily Caller responded by not only deleting the tweet, but also removing the full story from its website -- excusing itself as the third media outlet to publish stories about a post on Reddit and 4chan, where the photo first appeared and falsely charged that in 2016 Ocasio-Cortez shared the photo to her Instagram account, where a woman’s breasts reflected off a bathtub faucet.

The photo is not of Ocasio-Cortez, but rather another woman who was once caught in political controversy – Sydney Leathers, who suffered 30 minutes of inside-the-beltway fame as a sexting partner of disgraced New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Leathers blogged an apology to Ocasio-Cortez, writing she was “deeply sorry,” admitting the photo was “an old picture of mine where I’m soaking in the tub, feet up, candle lit, weed vape in hand.”

“This is a photo I took several years ago and have since deleted from my Instagram, because I now have a no feet for free rule, too many foot fetishists out there and I don’t want to give them free content,” Leathers explained. “The reason the photo is scandalous is because if you zoom in, you can see my boobs in the reflection of the bath tub faucet.”

One conservative lawmaker, who has recently demonstrated he pays close attention to Ocasio-Cortez's Twitter account, defended her against online trolls.

A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez declined to add to the congresswoman’s reaction on Twitter.

After taking office, Ocasio-Cortez welcomed a blitz of media coverage, landing her interview on “60 Minutes” with Anderson Cooper, in which she unabashedly accepted the charge that she’s a “radical" -- comparing herself to two highly regarded U.S. presidents.

"It only has ever been radicals that have changed this country. Abraham Lincoln made the radical decision to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the radical decision to embark on establishing programs like Social Security. If that’s what radical means, call me a radical,” she said.

And on MSNBC’s “Maddow,” she responded to President Donald Trump’s prime-time address from the Oval Office on the border wall.

Ocasio-Cortez's has come in for more standard criticism for her policy proposals, such as restoring a 70 percent marginal tax rate on the super wealthy that once existed from the late 1910s into the early 1980s.

On "60 Minutes," Ocasio-Cortez shrugged off the high-level of scrutiny, contending that her critics are ignoring the bigger picture she is working to reveal.

"If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they're missing the forest for the trees," she told Cooper. "I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right."

As Ocasio-Cortez demonstrates her growing national clout, she has exhibited a fresh media strategy that not only has quieted detractors but elevated her fame.

Perhaps most impressive of all was a 10-second, self-deprecating video she actually did personally share on Instagram, in which she destroyed faux outrage from critics about her amateur dance moves on a rooftop as a student at Boston University.

That clip was created last week in response to criticism Ocasio-Cortez faced after a video clip resurfaced of her dancing out a scene from the "Breakfast Club" as a senior at Boston University in 2010.

Despite quickly overshadowing some veteran colleagues in her caucus, Democratic leaders believe Ocasio-Cortez's star power also has the potential to help generate attention for the agenda of the new House majority.

"I think the fact that a lot of people are following both Speaker Pelosi and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is a good thing, and I would hope people would continue to keep listening to their thoughts, and we're going to blend those thoughts together," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said. "I think we're pretty unified as a party. I think that's a good thing. That fact that we communicate to people is also a good thing."

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  • Paul

    I have no issue listening to a new congressperson. And the selfie/picture thing is stupid too. This person is only 29. Which is fine but I hope she can be humble and realize, in the midst of her energy, how little she really knows and how much wisdom she has left to gain.

  • ryanwiwb

    Wait, wait. I thought the Trumpers wanted someone who would upset the status quo?

  • Dodger

    I've heard her far left agenda and it is very aggressive. But, can she do something about the US debt and still have accomplish any of her ideas?

  • Linzie Rogers

    The bigwigs must be afraid of her. They are powerful. Don't take their offering and you invite their ire. They know that once she whips them on any issue her position becomes stronger and theirs weaker. So they want to shut her down as quickly as possible. I predict it won't happen. The shallow minds in the choir will believe their drivel but not anyone else. She is the pebble in their collective shoe.

  • Trumplethinskin


  • Jeff Wainright

    Facts don't matter to the far-right. If they can smear someone using fake news, they will not hesitate to do so. I am rapidly becoming a fan of this young lady, though. They published fake news, she smacked 'em in the teeth for it. We need young blood in our government - new ideas, new ways of thinking rather than the SSDD we've been living with in our government for decades, to displace the drop of codgers currently kissing Trump's nethers while he runs this country into the ground.

  • BassPlyr73 Again

    "No feet for free rule"? Bummer.

  • Troyal

    With the actual quotes she provides, there is no need to make up fake news stories about her.

  • Mic123

    No reporting on AOC being fined for not having workers comp ins for her employee's?

  • cephalo

    We need to decide what to do about political fraud. It's dangerous to have the government be the arbiter of truth, but this kind of mass manipulation is a clear threat to democracy on it's own.

  • logical

    kind of like the fake news that people gave a crap about her dancing video. that being said, none of this fake stuff is OK. the whole "nude selfie" thing is prevalent with both females and males in the entertainment industry so not too surprising it is extending into politics. most politicians aren't at least a hard 6 like AOC which is why this hasn't happened more often.

  • AngeredVoter

    The conservative right has to use fake news because reality doesn't support their views.

  • TexasVulcan

    Anyone in the Democratic party that looks to make a "splash" will be targeted. And when someone has a "foreign-sounding name" it's a lot worse.

  • Sleddawg63

    With this much hated against her she must be the real deal. No one pays attention to people who don't matter.

  • Lee Thompson

    We have many deplorable people. Very sad that someone actually thinks this is an "OK" thing to do. My hope is for some major Karma to visit the disgusting individual who did this.

  • unbelievable...

    The Daily Caller.....I remember when they published a purported photo of Hillary's hard drive folder list that had a folder titled "Pay for Play" on it.....

    Fake news indeed.....I didn't know it was a Tucker Carlson propaganda outlet though....

  • Eric

    Need to see the pic or it didn't happen...

  • Clyde Delgato

    The more I hear about his woman, the more I like her.

  • CaptnBlynd

    Is there a celebrity out there without photo-shopped or look alike nude photos? I am afraid to go look for some of the less attractive ones for examples. Welcome to the internet.

  • BD70

    Facts do matter and I hope she collects them first before pushing her agenda. Now about that nude selfie....
    Why are they carrying on about that one photo that doesn't even sound all that nude when there are plenty of nude photos of Melania online? Jeeze...


    When in doubt, conservative go full Russia and just start making things up on the spot. I present Pizzagate as a prime example.

  • mark2789

    Under attack by fake news means...…..she's just what this country needs.

  • Prophet With Honor

    The more they falsely slander her the greater the chance her district will reelect her.

  • Band, On the Run

    Some people must be scared of her, to go to these extremes to discredit her.

  • Rocky Salerno

    While Ocasio-Cortez is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, her enemies should leave her alone to make her own mistakes. Inventing things about her that are not true will only make her seem better than what she is.