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Sinclair-Owned ABC Affiliate Airs Ad With Burning Photo of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez During Democratic Debate

The Wrap Friday, 13 September 2019
An inflammatory political attack ad targeting congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aired Thursday on a Washington, D.C.-area ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group during the third Democratic debate.

The ad shows a photograph of Ocasio-Cortez that begins to burn, followed by graphic photographs purported to be from the Cambodian genocide under the dictatorship of Pol Pot. It’s narrated by Elizabeth Heng, a former California Republican congressional candidate, who calls Ocasio-Cortez “the face of socialism, and ignorance,” and says “mine is a face of freedom, my skin is not white, I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”

The ad, which can be viewed here, aired around 9:30 p.m. local time on WJLA-TV in D.C.

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The ad was created by a Republican PAC called New Faces GOP, which says it aims to recruit more diverse candidates for the Republican party. Ocasio-Cortez called that claim a “pretense” shortly after the ad aired.

“Know that this wasn’t an ad for young conservatives of color – that was the pretense,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist case.”

Sinclair, which owns about 200 local news outlets across the country, has a history of openly partisan political activity. The company frequently requires member stations to include what it calls “must-run” segments espousing conservative political commentary during local news broadcasts. And in 2017, the company forced news anchors at multiple stations to read a company-mandated statement in support of Donald Trump’s attacks on the media.

It’s not known if the ad played on any other Sinclair media stations. Multiple Twitter users said the ad did not air in the New York-area (Ocasio-Cortez represents New York’s 14th congressional district), and TheWrap can confirm it did not air in Los Angeles. Representatives for ABC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. Attempts to reach representatives for Sinclair by phone and by email were unsuccessful.

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