It's Thursday and one freshman congresswoman in particular is getting attacked from the right. This time the push-back came in the form of a Times Square ad criticizing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and blaming her for lost jobs after Amazon decided against building its corporate headquarters near her home district. However, based on her response, she didn't seem fazed.
"Thanks for nothing, AOC!" read an electronic billboard on 42nd Street, claiming that the Amazon pullout cost the city 25,000 jobs and $4 billion in lost wages. The tech giant canceled its plans a week ago after receiving fierce opposition from progressives who argued it shouldn't get nearly $3 billion in tax credits for settling in the city. According to the New York Times, Amazon released a statement on the decision, saying, “A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward."
Ocasio-Cortez was among those who supported the pullout, but even according to her, was by no means a leader in the movement. "Grassroots community members led + organized the whole effort," she wrote on Twitter, agreeing that her perceived role in the pullout was being exaggerated. "Wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t there."
The attack ad was funded by an advocacy group called the Job Creators Network (JCN). According to The New York Times, JCN has been tied to the Mercer Family Foundation, the grant-making arm of the conservative billionaire Mercer family. The irony of conservative messaging in a city known for its left-leaning populace was not lost on Ocasio-Cortez, who compared it to the Times Square scene in NBC's The Office.
"Billionaires paying to put up anti-progressive propaganda in Times Square is like the obscenely rich version of the scene where Michael Scott points to the Bubba Gump and saying 'This is it, this is the heart of civilization, right here.'" she wrote on Twitter, adding a link to the scene.
After firebrand Fox host Laura Ingraham applauded the ad Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez added that the fact that wealthy conservative groups were "blowing tons of cash on wack billboards" means progressives are succeeding in "fighting dark money & anti-worker policies." In a postscript, she also noted that the placement in Times Square, a notoriously touristy destination, was an easy way to tell they were not meant for or put up by actual New Yorkers.
Since establishing herself as a breakout star on the left flank of the Democratic Party, Ocasio-Cortez has found herself at the center of conservative ire, even on issues she's only tangentially involved with. On top of attacks over issues as inconsequential as her clothing choices, or that video of her dancing in college, she's also been singled out for progressive ideas that are shared widely in the Democratic Party. Whether it's the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, or tuition-free college, there's a good chance someone has called her out for her views.
Even so, Ocasio-Cortez has appeared consistently unfazed by the attacks, "showing her receipts" to support her claims on Twitter and delivering witty comebacks to her critics on the right. After Republican lawmakers jeered when she voted for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month, she summed up her attitude with a pointed Twitter response: "Over 200 members voted for Nancy Pelosi today, yet the GOP only booed one: me. Don’t hate me cause you ain’t me, fellas."