Democratic rep slams news outlets for 'exaggerated headlines' about threats

Democratic rep slams news outlets for 'exaggerated headlines' about threats
© Greg Nash

Democratic Rep. Jahana HayesJahana HayesIlhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video Democratic rep slams news outlets for 'exaggerated headlines' about threats Lawmakers put spotlight on youth homelessness MORE (Conn.) pushed back on news stories with "exaggerated headlines," saying reports she said she's received racist threats since taking office are not true.

Hayes hit reporters for “driving this narrative that I am using race as a dividing card,” in a statement Sunday, in response to two headlines she said are “clickbait journalism at its worst.” 

Hayes called out a headline in The Connecticut Mirror that said “Hayes has ‘heightened sense’ about security concerns," and a Republican American headline that said “U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes claims to have received racist communications since taking office.” 

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Hayes's statement comes nearly a month after The Connecticut Mirror story and just one day after the Republican American article. 

“I am appalled at the continuous attempts by journalists to drive this narrative that I am using race as a dividing card. This is clickbait journalism at its very worst – in order to drive clicks and boost advertising, these outlets are making reckless assumptions without thought for the consequences,” Hayes said.  “To be clear: while my office, like all congressional offices, has received the occasional harassing email or phone call, I have not been directly threatened.” 

Hayes is the first African American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. 

Hayes said she never once used the word “racist” in interviews with either news outlet as part of interviews about her first term in office. 

“In fact, when asked directly by one reporter if any threats had been received, I responded, ‘No, I have not received any direct threats.’ The reporter then repeated and confirmed that statement in the recap of our conversation,” Hayes said.

“In the second interview, I stated repeatedly that this discussion of security threats was taken out of context, which is not reflected in the article.” 

Connecticut Mirror executive editor Elizabeth Hamilton told The Hill “we stand by our story.”

Republican American staff members were not immediately available for comment.

The Connecticut Mirror story published Aug. 1 does not quote Hayes as using the word “racist” anywhere in the story or headline the congresswoman is calling out. 

The Republican American story published Aug. 24, claims Hayes “says she has been the target of vile and racist phone calls” and accuses the congresswoman of refusing to “provide any examples or details.”

“Journalists have an important role to play in our public discourse, however, they must also be cognizant of their responsibility to the truth,” Hayes said. “As the wife of a police officer, I am deeply aware of how much it corrodes our public safety when false allegations are bandied about. Going forward, I hope and pray that members of the press will strive harder to be fair and accurate, rather than focusing on clickbait.”

Other freshmen congress members have publicly discussed receiving threats since taking office.

Updated: 3:02 p.m.