Mother Jones reporter and MSNBC analyst David Corn showed me a photo of the “obscene” anti-Ocasio-Cortez graffiti he found in an airport bathroom this week and, honestly, it was pretty underwhelming.
Corn tweeted about the graffiti to his over-700,000 followers Tuesday but opted not to share the photo, sparking a flurry of responses from skeptical Twitter users who believed Corn was making up the story entirely or had written the graffiti himself.
I just spotted obscene anti-@AOC graffiti in a bathroom stall in the Phoenix airport. Yes, really. (Not going to post a photo of it.)
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 5, 2019
The speculation about the alleged graffiti only intensified after some odd tweets from Phoenix Sky Harbor, the airport where Corn claimed to have found the message.
Corn shared the location of the graffiti with the airport, but the airport maintenance team was unable to find anything in the bathroom stalls. Corn suggested that the graffiti had been removed earlier in the day, noting that it was written in black marker that he was able to partially wipe off with his hand.
Thanks for the follow-up. Our Facilities team checked the restrooms in the area last night, and although they didn’t find anything, those restrooms are checked and cleaned several times a day.
— PHX Sky Harbor (@PHXSkyHarbor) March 6, 2019
The airport also refused to confirm if Corn shared a photo of the graffiti with their team, although Corn asked the airport to DM him so he could send it to them.
Hi Amanda, we did have our custodians check the restrooms in Terminal 2 and they let us know that they did not find anything. That doesn’t mean something wasn’t cleaned up earlier in the day. Thanks,
— PHX Sky Harbor (@PHXSkyHarbor) March 6, 2019
The exchange caught my attention in light of the recent hoaxed hate crime by “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, so I set out on a mission to see the photo of the Ocasio-Cortez graffiti myself.
I shot a message over to Corn on Wednesday, asking if he could send me the photo if I agreed not to publish it anywhere.
Corn replied that he did not trust me enough to share the photo with me online, an admission I found somewhat ironic considering a whole lot of people didn’t trust Corn enough to think the graffiti was real. Nonetheless, Corn offered to show me the photo in person if I dropped by his office the next day.
We ended up meeting at a coffee shop between our two offices on Thursday morning, and Corn requested I record our conversation, which I was happy to do. As a condition of seeing the photograph of the anti-AOC graffiti, I had to agree not to quote what the graffiti actually said.
Given the relative lengths I had to go to just to catch a glimpse of this photo, I was preparing myself for something pretty wild.
The graffiti consisted of three words and compared Ocasio-Cortez to poop.
Corn was very concerned that I still didn’t believe the graffiti was real, so he pointed emphatically at the location tag on the photo and the time it was taken.
“You can see the time it was taken. Tuesday, 1 o’clock p.m.,” Corn told me. “Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. And if that doesn’t trust you, you can do the information, and it says ‘places: Sky Harbor Blvd., Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport,’ with a little photo in the middle of the map.”
I asked Corn if he ever sent the photo to the Phoenix Airport, and he said, “I didn’t DM them, because I said follow me and I will DM you the picture, and they never followed me.”
“And they didn’t DM you?” I questioned.
“No, there are no DMs. They said they sent someone to look, and they didn’t find it,” Corn replied. “I think they probably had more important things to worry about at the airport.”
“At least I hope so,” he added. “And I was able to, you know, I was curious how indelible it might be. So I took a piece of toilet paper and rubbed one of the letters, and with a lot of elbow grease it came off, and then I just kind of stopped.”
Corn and I discussed why he thought the graffiti was important enough to warrant a tweet but not important enough to share the photo, and he explained that he thought it was interesting that a freshman congressman was being denigrated so far from the district she represents. However, since posting the tweet, Corn’s interest had clearly shifted from the graffiti itself to the skepticism and personal attacks he received from people who thought he had concocted the story.
“The attacks ranged from questioning my sanity to questioning my masculinity,” he said. “People say I’m only doing this because I want to date her. I mean, why are so many of the criticisms about her sexualized? That’s a pretty interesting question. And then also people saying I should kill myself … I mean that’s a pretty over-the-top question.”
I offered that, while personal attacks are not acceptable, the reaction could be due to general skepticism of the media. I cited recent high-profile stories against conservatives that turned out to be untrue, such as the Covington Catholic kids and the Smollett hoax. (RELATED: Here Are The Most Egregious Fake News Stories Of 2018)
“Well this seems to be ideologically-driven mistrust. I’m betting that if someone at The Daily Caller did this, not all the conservatives would rush out and attack him the way they attacked me,” Corn stated.
“No, but I think liberals probably would,” I replied.
“I don’t think so,” he claimed. “I certainly wouldn’t.”
Later in our conversation, I pointed out that Corn didn’t trust me enough to send me the photo over Twitter.
“Well, yeah, because, you know, I don’t know you,” Corn said. “I know The Daily Caller, and I’ve seen them do things that I don’t agree with, but I did trust you enough to sit down with you and show it to you.”
Corn’s response seemed to debunk his own claim that he wouldn’t automatically distrust reporting from the Caller.
Nonetheless, Corn and I had a longer discussion about the reaction to his tweet, how Twitter has become a platform for reporting in itself and whether or not he should’ve shared the photo with his followers.
Corn said he didn’t want to amplify the troll’s message, whereas I thought he had already done so by posting about the graffiti at all and should’ve shared the photo on request. I argued that conservatives reacted the way they did because they’ve been burned by the media so many times, while Corn thought the response to the tweet was born out of partisan anger.
A few hours after I got back to The Daily Caller office, Corn sent me a few more screenshots of what he called “hateful assaults” from people accusing him of fabricating the anti-AOC graffiti.
Long story short, I can confirm that the anti-AOC graffiti exists. I’m not sure it was worth a 15-minute walk in below-freezing weather, but it is, in fact, real.