Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic socialist star running for New York's 14th congressional district, is facing criticism after her campaign banned journalists from covering a town hall meeting with voters this week.
The Queens Chronicle, a local news outlet, reported that the campaign for the 28-year-old progressive prevented reporters from attending a campaign event in Corona on Sunday, even though it was open to the rest of the public. The campaign reportedly barred reporters from a prior event as well.
Ocasio-Cortez returned to her district after stumping for like-minded candidates across the country, even joining up with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She became an overnight political sensation and a sought-after endorsement on the left upon defeating longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary in June.
Her campaign did not immediately return a request for comment about the ban from Fox News. But a spokesman told the Queens Chronicle all the national attention contributed to the decision to prevent reporters from covering the event.
“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,” campaign spokesman Corbin Trent said. “This is an outlier and will not be the norm. We’re still adjusting our logistics to fit Alexandria’s national profile.”
The explanation, though, did not satisfy reporters.
Seung Min Kim, a Washington Post reporter, tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez “is in for a rough time on Capitol Hill -- where reporters roam freely at all hours of the day and night -- if this is her attitude toward the press.”
By Friday afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez doubled-down on Twitter, calling it“a non-story.”
She said the journalist ban “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,” she said. “Future ones are open.”
The candidate has faced some scrutiny from media fact-checkers for a spree of claims she's made on the interview circuit.
Ocasio-Cortez’s banning of reporters came the same week more than 300 publications across the country -- many of which supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 -- ran coordinated editorials hitting back at President Trump’s attacks on members of the press.
The Boston Globe’s piece, published Thursday, titled “JOURNALISTS ARE NOT THE ENEMY,” said replacing “a free media with a state-run media” is the “first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country.”
“Today in the United States we have a president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current U.S. administration are the ‘enemy of the people,’” the editorial board wrote. “This is one of the many lies that have been thrown out by this president much like an old-time charlatan threw out ‘magic’ dust or water on a hopeful crowd.”
President Trump responded by accusing the Globe of “collusion.”
“The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!” Trump tweeted.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.