Salena Zito Characterizes Republican Operative As Someone Who ‘Voted For Clinton’

Zito has been accused in the past of purposefully misrepresenting Republicans to portray them as swing voters and conflicted Democrats.

Looks like the Salena Zito controversy has been given new life.

In case you missed it, the Trump country whisperer has come under fire in recent months over allegations that she’s purposely misrepresented her interview subjects and fabricated too-perfect quotes. The New York Post columnist and Washington Examiner political reporter has vehemently denied the accusations, firing back with a column in which she addressed some of the examples highlighted by critics. Her defense, however, actually raised more questions as an audio recording of an interview showed she changed one subject’s quotes three times.

In her latest column for the Post, Zito claims that Latinos could help Republicans win close races in Florida, spotlighting a handful of Hillary Clinton and independent voters to make her case and point out that they “aren’t driven by the national narratives that have been dominating the news cycle.” One of those Clinton voters, it turns out, isn’t quite as surprising as she would make it seem.

Touching on Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo’s super-tight race, Zito talked with Clinton voter David Acosta. Here’s the relevant passage:

Curbelo, the son of Cuban exiles, is a two-term incumbent in a district Hillary Clinton also won by double digits. He will hold his seat over Ecuadorian born Mucarsel-Powell if enough voters like David Acosta show up on Tuesday.

Acosta, an international-relations graduate student at Harvard, voted for Clinton in 2016 without hesitation. “I couldn’t come around to supporting Trump at the time. A major turning point . . . was definitely with the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. I couldn’t do it,” said the 24-year-old.

When it comes to Curbelo though, he feels differently.

“I see him as quite moderate when it comes to introducing a carbon tax, for instance, which I know wouldn’t go anywhere within the Republican Party, but at least it starts the conversation . . . addressing climate change, and his legislation to ban bump stocks,” he said.

Reading that, you’d come away with the idea that Acosta is a swing-voter or a Democrat. The truth is, Acosta is actually a GOP operative who campaigned for Republican down-ballot races in 2016. On top of that, Acosta was highly critical of Hillary in the run-up to and immediately after the 2016 election.

According to his own Twitter bio and the group’s website, Acosta is the Director of Political Action for the Miami Young Republicans. The site also notes that he “previously served as Political Outreach Director for the UM College Republicans.”

Regarding the 2016 election, he didn’t seem all that heartbroken that Hillary lost to Trump, despite being described as someone who voted for her “without hesitation.” He called Trump’s election a “huge win for our party” and said it was “pathetic” that there was a petition calling for the Electoral College to choose Clinton over Trump.

In September 2016, Acosta referred to Clinton as “#Crooked” while saying she was “incapable of handing (sic) classified information.”

This omission of Acosta’s extensive GOP background is reminiscent of another notorious example that resulted in another columnist getting egg on her face. Back in May, Zito wrote a New York Post column based on her Trump country book, The Great Revolt. In the piece, she highlighted Wisconsin native Amy Maurer as a “suburban mom whom experts missed in the 2016 election — and still don’t get today.” She further noted that “Clinton campaign tried hard to win over voters like Maurer with ads highlighting Trump’s most misogynistic remarks.”

There was no reference in the column that Maurer is a Republican. And while the book did note that Maurer is a GOP voter, neither the book or column points out that Maurer is the corresponding secretary of the Kenosha County Republican Party. Basing a subsequent New York Times column on women voters and Democrats on Zito’s reporting, CNN host S.E. Cupp had to issue a correction as she had no idea.

The Post has not issued any correction or clarification to Zito’s article. Zito, for her part, has defended her characterization of Maurer in both the book and column, stating that in The Great Revolt she identified Maurer as “an engaged GOP primary voter” and that the Post piece included a photo of Maurer showing her wearing a GOP pin. (One would be hard pressed to actually notice that detail, as the pin is blurry and not a prominent feature of the image. Also, one would actually have to be looking for that detail in the first place.)

We have reached out to the New York Post to comment on the characterization of Acosta in Zito’s piece and whether her editors were aware of the omission. We will update this piece if we hear back.

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Justin Baragona is the founder and publisher of Contemptor. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
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