Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has done it. No, I don’t just mean becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. I’m talking something potentially even more remarkable.
She’s become the key topic of conversation for Fox News commentators.
In fact, President Trump’s favorite network has what I’d like to refer to as “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez derangement syndrome.” They can’t stop talking everything Ocasio-Cortez, from her choice of footwear to the type of apartment she can afford to the alleged impending doom she presents for America.
Could it be that a young, brown Latina woman is the new “villain” Fox News needs to keep viewers tuned in?
What makes this even more incredible is that Ocasio-Cortez has not been sworn in to Congress yet. In fact she only really gained national media attention in June, when she won her primary, defeating longtime Democratic Representative Joe Crowley.
Look at the way Ocasio-Cortez has triggered Fox News in just the last week alone. On Saturday, in yet another discussion of the rising Democratic star, one Fox News guest described her as “[Fidel] Castro’s granddaughter, Ocasio-Cortez,” claiming her values would bring a dangerous form of politics to America.
On Wednesday, Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy declared that Ocasio-Cortez should be person of the year because she had mainstreamed socialism, paving the way for other Democrats to reveal that they, too, are socialists.
Come Thanksgiving Day – apparently there’s no holiday break for Ocasio-Cortez derangement syndrome on Fox News – host Charles Payne warned that Ocasio-Cortez was going to destroy everything. Payne told Fox News viewers in between their bites of turkey that “the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes of the world” are “like bulls in a china shop,” adding ominously, “they just want to create havoc.”
Then on Friday night, Fox News took its Ocasio-Cortez fetish to new heights, discussing her shoes in prime time. The segment opened with Fox News host Ed Henry first admitting the network’s obsession with the soon to be member of Congress, stating, “we talk about her a lot on Fox & Friends Weekend.” And then Henry led a discussion about the worn-out shoes Ocasio-Cortez used on the campaign trail that will soon become part of Cornell University’s new exhibit on women in politics: “Women Empowered: Fashions from the Front Line.”
In that conversation, Fox News contributor Campos-Duffy reiterated her fears of socialism and told viewers that Ocasio-Cortez wants to turn America into Venezuela, where people “don’t have shoes on their feet because of what socialism has done to their country.”
Fox News really needs to find another subject to discuss. In fact, after this segment on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to respond with the words, “No, no es amor/ Lo que tú sientes, se llama obsession.” These lines are lyrics are from the song Obsesión, by Aventura, which translates into English as: “No, it’s not love, what you feel is called obsession.”
Ocasio-Cortez is right on the money. Fox News is obsessed with her. And it appears others in the right-wing media have also caught some of the Ocasio-Cortez derangement syndrome, as they also seemingly cover her every comment.
So what’s driving all of this? Could it be that Fox News is realizing its longtime bogeywomen, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, are losing their luster for their viewers? (I actually enjoy flipping on Fox News on occasion because on that network it appears that Hillary Clinton is president.) Given that the Democrats won the most House seats this past election than in any year since 1974, using Pelosi to scare Fox News viewers into action doesn’t seem to work anymore.
Or, does Fox News’s Ocasio-Cortez obsession come from a darker place? Some call it “white anxiety,” while others, like myself, call it white supremacy. Fox News has a history of stoking racial divisions. Just take a look at Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, who have used their shows to warn viewers about the “browning” of America.
Has Fox News decided that Ocasio-Cortez is the manifestation of that? In addition to being a Latina woman, she’s calling for bold, progressive initiatives for America that Fox News has deemed socialism. (In reality, Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialist and is championing issues like Medicare for all and raising the minimum wage to $15 – not the government taking control of all means of production, as we would see in traditional socialist governments.)
Though we cannot know Fox News’s motivations with any degree of certainty, one thing is clear: The more viewers keep tuning into segments in which they obsess over Ocasio-Cortez, the more the network will keep producing them.
So expect to see more of Fox News’ Ocasio-Cortez derangement syndrome on display until the network can find a new “villain” who plays better for their audience.