Congress

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez roasts Fox News’ Laura Ingraham amid Twitter-blocking dispute

New York Democrat claims she has only blocked Twitter users who have repeatedly harassed her

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Thursday defended her practice of blocking Twitter users who harass her online. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came at the neck of Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Thursday, calling the prime-time political anchor a “neo-Nazi fan favorite” known for “defending white supremacist viewpoints and mocking gun violence survivors.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Twitter-savvy New York Democrat had been defending herself from an accusation by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute that she was breaking the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users from following her account.

“I have 5.2 million followers. Less than 20 accounts are blocked for ongoing harassment. 0 are my constituents,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the letter from the Knight Institute.

Ingraham quickly corrected a grammar mistake in Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet.

“‘Fewer’ than 20 accounts....” the Fox News host wrote in a quote tweet.

Ocasio-Cortez then quote-tweeted Ingraham, suggesting that the fact she had not blocked Ingraham — one of the congresswoman’s fiercest media critics — was proof she did not block people for opposing viewpoints.

“See? You’re a neo-Nazi fan favorite and I don’t block you for defending white supremacist viewpoints and mocking gun violence survivors,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

In the letter from Columbia’s Knight Institute that eventually led to the exchange, the signatories urged Ocasio-Cortez to “unblock” anyone whom she or her staff blocked from her account “because of the viewpoints they have expressed.”

“The @AOC account is a ‘public forum’ within the meaning of the First Amendment,” the Knight Institute wrote, arguing that she uses the account as an extension of her office “to share information about congressional hearings, to explain policy proposals, to advocate legislation, and to solicit public comment about issues relating to government.”

The congresswoman argued that differing views have never been the basis for blocking someone from viewing her account’s content. She has only blocked accounts that have continually harassed her, she wrote.

“Harassment is not a viewpoint,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“Some accounts, like the Daily Caller, posted fake nude photos of me & abused my comments to spread it. No one is entitled to abuse,” she wrote, referring to a conservative news website based in Washington.

Attorneys for Ocasio-Cortez have argued that her @AOC account is a personal account, and thus not governed by the First Amendment. Republican congressional candidate Joseph Saladino sued Ocasio-Cortez in July for blocking him.

New York’s U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit dismissed a similar argument from President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this year that his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, was not subject to the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” the court ruled.

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