In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of people exposed for engaging in blatant astroturfing in order to make it look like their following on social media is larger than it actually is. Buying followers, automated posts, the lot. As we now know, the 2016 and 2018 cycles have seen a virtual infestation of such activity.
But in order to prove someone is engaging in smoke and mirrors on Facebook and Twitter, you have to have some pretty compelling evidence. Unfortunately, it looks like a right-wing actor forgot that lesson when he tried to accuse freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of letting her staff write her tweets–and seemingly expected us to take his word for it.
AOC has achieved perhaps more visibility than any freshman lawmaker in recent memory. As of this writing, the congresswoman from north Queens and the north Bronx has over 3.7 million followers on Twitter–more than 2020 presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand. In the month before she was sworn in, she had more interactions than such Democratic luminaries as Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Harris.
Part of her visibility comes from the fact that she isn’t shy about using Twitter to not only discuss policy, but to clap back at those who make the mistake of picking a fight with a Latina. But one right-wing luminary doesn’t think those responses are real. Namely, Emmy-award winning actor James Woods.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to booby-trap his Democratic counterparts by forcing a vote on AOC’s signature “Green New Deal” package. It didn’t work; nearly every Democrat voted “present” on the measure, which died 57-0.
During debate on the bill, Mike Lee of Utah took to the floor to, among other things, suggest that the only way to fight climate change is to have more kids. No, this isn’t snark. Watch here.
That display didn’t sit well with AOC, who lit into Lee in what has become signature fashion. She accused Lee of not respecting his job or the institution of the Senate.
When Woods saw this, he didn’t challenge AOC on her ideas. Nope, he actually accused her of astroturfing on a massive scale.
Pretty staggering accusation on Woods’ part. He’s effectively saying that, for instance, when AOC famously slapped down Scott Walker for misleading fifth-graders about taxation, her effort to correct the record was “managed” by her staff. And when she blasted Sarah Huckabee Sanders for suggesting that she ought to leave climate change up to God, Woods is effectively saying she was astroturfing.
At least one fellow right-wing inquiring mind wanted to know more–Trump-worshiping pastor Lance Wallnau.
But as I write this on Wednesday night, this is what he has offered to back up his claim.
That’s right. Absolutely no evidence whatsoever. And it’s even more staggering considering that there is ample evidence that AOC can “put two words together”–and then some. Take, for instance, her brutal questioning of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing about plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Watch here.
AOC pointed out that Ross is required by law to get Congressional approval for any changes to the Census questionnaire–and Ross had yet to do so. Republican Mark Meadows tried to raise a point of order, saying that it wasn’t clear what AOC was talking about. With the full backing of committee chairman Elijah Cummings, AOC cited the statute that set out the process for how the questionnaire is to be changed–right down to the subsection.
This is a level of preparation that we don’t see from far more senior lawmakers. And, it should be noted, it’s a lot more than two words being put together.
Word to the wise, James. If you’re going to accuse AOC of astroturfing solely on the basis of her supposed inability to “put two words together,” you might want to consider that there is ample video evidence that AOC is very articulate on her own. And that suggestion applies to you as well, Lance, considering that you saw fit to share this with your followers as well.
We know that Woods, Wallnau and the rest of the right are just trying to get their licks in on AOC. After all, she represents a district with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+29–making it “only” the sixth-most Democratic district in New York City. She’s going to be in that seat for at least two decades. But you’re going to have to do better than that.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, gentlemen. And accusing someone of astroturfing is the definition of an extraordinary claim. So where is that evidence? We’re waiting.
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