Audrey Conklin on August 8, 2019

News headlines and a tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attributed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign to a fake quote.

The Kentucky Republican and his campaign came under fire for reports that they used the excuse, “Boys will be boys,” in response to an Instagram photo of a group of boys wearing “Team Mitch” T-shirts posing next to and kissing a cardboard cutout of Ocasio-Cortez with the caption, “Break me off a piece of that.”

The Daily Beast reported McConnell’s campaign manager, Kevin Golden, initially responded to the photo “by saying, in essence, boys will be boys,” in a Tuesday article. 

The actual initial quote from Golden read, “We’ve watched for years as the far-left and the media look for every possible way to demonize, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics.”

“These young men are not campaign staff, they’re high schoolers, and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country,” Golden continued.

The Daily Beast added that in a second, more formal statement, Golden condemned the photo: “Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life sized cardboard cut outs of any gender in a manner similar to what we saw from President Obama’s speechwriting staff several years ago.”

The article caught the attention of Ocasio-Cortez, who shared it on Twitter with the phrase “boys we be boys” in quotes: “‘Boys will be boys.’ Is that also the reason why you’ve chosen to block the Violence Against Women act too, @senatemajldr? It prevents dating partners [with] records of abuse [and] stalking women (also an early warning sign from many mass shooters) from obtaining a gun.”

“Boys will be held accountable for their actions, starting with Mitch McConnell,” the New York Democrat added in a follow-up tweet.

Newsweek ran with the “boys will be boys” quote in a blurred version of The Daily Beast story with the headline, “AOC Slams McConnell Campaign’s ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Defense: ‘Boys Will Be Held Accountable For Their Actions.’”

“Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign on Tuesday for invoking the ‘boys will be boys’ defense in response to a Facebook photo of a young group of men wearing ‘Team Mitch’ t-shirts while choking and groping a cardboard cutout of the lawmaker,” the Newsweek article reads.

The New York Daily News went so far as to say McConnell’s campaign “literally” said “boys will be boys.”

In a Tuesday article titled “Mitch McConnell campaign says boys will be boys after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasts disturbing groping pic,” the first sentence reads, “AOC says #TeamMitch is a bunch of dangerous perverts — but his campaign literally says boys will be boys.”

The teenager who posted the photo of the boys has since deleted the post and apologized, saying, “My friends and I sincerely apologize to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Senator McConnell, to our school, St. Jerome Parish, and our community for our insensitive actions at Fancy Farm this past weekend.”

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