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A top adviser to New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has admitted that an official “Green New Deal” document posted by Ocasio-Cortez’s office contained a guarantee of economic security even for those “unwilling to work” — but not before he went viral in progressive circles for claiming the exact opposite, repeatedly, in an interview with Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Cornell University Law School Professor Robert Hockett, who counsels Ocasio-Cortez on environmental initiatives, challenged host Tucker Carlson when he quoted from an outline and list of “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) that had been posted on Ocasio-Cortez’s official website. A similar version of the FAQ was also shared with NPR.
The FAQ and background materials from Ocasio-Cortez’s website stated that the Green New Deal will provide “Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work,” and the FAQ sent to NPR also noted, “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office removed the documents from her website amid an online backlash. A version of the FAQ that referred to “farting cows” is still available on NPR’s website, and a similar version that was posted to Ocasio-Cortez’s website is currently viewable on an Internet archiving service. Both versions of the documents describe providing economic security for those “unwilling to work,” and state, “This is a massive transformation of our society with clear goals and a timeline” at a “scale not seen since World War 2.”
Carlson asked Hockett at the outset of the interview: “Why would we ever pay people who are ‘unwilling to work’?”
In a head-turning moment heard around the Internet, Hockett replied flatly, “Uh, we never would, right? And AOC has never said anything like that, right? I think you’re referring to some sort of document — I think some doctored document that somebody other than us has been circulating. … She’s actually tweeted it out to laugh at it, if you look at her latest tweets. It seems apparently, some Republicans have put it out there. I don’t know the details.”
That was an apparent reference to a Thursday tweet by Ocasio-Cortez that criticized parody versions of the Green New Deal FAQ, including one that said, effective immediately, “males should urinate into an empty milk jug instead of a toilet.” The parody versions cited by Ocasio-Cortez in the tweet did not contain any reference to providing economic security for those “unwilling to work.”
“When your #GreenNewDeal legislation is so strong that the GOP has to resort to circulating false versions, but the real one nets 70 House cosponsors on Day 1 and all Dem presidential candidates sign on anyway,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote, along with a picture of the parody version containing the urination reference.
Later in the interview, Hockett doubled down that Ocasio-Cortez’s official FAQ did not include a reference to a guarantee of universal economic stability even for those “unwilling” to work: “Definitely not. That’s erroneous. It’s the wrong document. That’s not us.”
The exchange prompted a flurry of support for Hockett on social media among liberal audiences. The left-wing activist group Media Matters for America wrote in a widely shared post, “Watch what happens when Tucker Carlson steps outside the conservative media bubble and gets fact-checked on Green New Deal falsehoods.”
But over the weekend, Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, seemingly admitted that the FAQ shared with NPR and posted on Ocasio-Cortez’s website was genuine. Metadata from the document posted by NPR confirmed that Chakrabarti was listed as one of the authors of the FAQ.
“An early draft of a FAQ that was clearly unfinished and that doesn’t represent the GND [Green New Deal] resolution got published to the website by mistake,” Chakrabarti tweeted. “But what’s in the resolution is the GND.”
Both Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez also referred supporters to a stripped-down resolution they formally introduced in Congress, which does not include the FAQ’s language on universal economic support. The resolution is not a bill, and contains only broad language.