Vanity Fair is striking back at Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, defending themselves against O’Rourke’s claim that his words were twisted in his Vanity Fair cover interview, making him sound more “privileged.”
O’Rourke appeared on Vanity Fair’s cover in March, in a photograph by celebrity snapper Annie Lebovitz. In his interview with the magazine, O’Rourke seemed a bit entitled, arguing that he’s owed the right to compete in the 2020 Democratic primary, even though he lost his statewide race in Texas, against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, just months before.
“I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it,” O’Rourke said.
In an appearance on “The View,” Tuesday, O’Rourke admitted that announcing his campaign for president in the same week that he appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair might have been a mistake, because it made him look too out-of-touch with middle America.
“Yeah. I think it reinforces that perception of privilege,” he said, adding that, while he still enjoys being in politics, Vanity Fair twisted the meaning of his words, making him look more entitled than he felt.
“I was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service,” he told View host Joy Behar. “No one is born to be president of the United States of America, least of all me.”
He said something similar on the campaign trail in Wisconsin.
“I saw the cover with that quote ‘born to run’ or ‘born to do this’ and I was like, man, I hope I didn’t say that. I think the context of that, which makes sense and is the way that I feel, is that I’m born to serve. I’m born to try to help bring people together,” he told an audience back in April.
Vanity Fair, though, insists that Beto really just is that privileged and entitled. In a forthcoming interview with CNN, Vanity Fair’s Editor-in-Chief, Radhika Jones, defends the reporter that conducted O’Rourke’s interview, and insists that they quoted O’Rourke word for word.
“‘I mean, he did say it. And I have felt actually it is clear what he meant,” Jones tells CNN’s Christian Amanpour in a clip from the weekend’s one-on-one.
Jones is also, it seems, taking issue with O’Rourke’s assessment that the Vanity Fair cover ultimately harmed his chances with average, everday Americans.
“A lot of people have interpreted this cover differently. That’s always the case with covers, I find,” she says. “I’m really proud of it, I’m proud that we got it, and I’m proud that it’s still driving conversation.”
O’Rourke, she seems to say, comes across privileged because he is privileged.
“You know, I’ve presided over a lot of magazine covers in my day, and the truth is you can never exactly game out how something’s going to go over,” she adds. “But I do think that what they talked about and what we also thought about when we were working on the piece, and thought about in all of our coverage on this campaign, is that there are big themes rising up in 2020, and some of them do have to do with privilege and accessibility and precedent. And if we are driving part of that conversation, I think that’s exactly what our job is.”
O’Rourke is in the process of “relaunching” his flagging 2020 presidential campaign. After a short “quiet period,” in which no one really noticed he was gone, O’Rourke is now doing some of his first national interviews. He kicked off the new and improved O’Rourke 2020 campaign on the View this week, and plans a steady stream of appearances over the next several weeks, in the hopes that he can earn either a bump in the polls or a more solid donor base — anything to get him on the podium for the first primary debates in just over a month.