By James Hibberd
September 13, 2019 at 02:27 PM EDT
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

An ad showing a freshman congresswoman’s face in flames that aired during the Democratic Presidential debate Thursday night has resulted in #BoycottABC trending on Twitter.

The inflammatory anti-socialism ad aired on an unknown number of Sinclair-owned ABC stations, including in Washington D.C., and depicted a photo of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on fire. So far more than 40,000 tweets have used the hashtag.

AOC has slammed the commercial: “GOP’s message: No policy, no facts, just displays of violence + corporations like @ABCNetwork & Sinclair who amplify them. They profit from burning my likeness on TV. But who pays for heightened security? Who answers the phones for the threats resulting from a violent, false ad?”

The ad (embedded below) was paid for by the New Faces GOP PAC and Elizabeth Heng, who unsuccessfully ran for a California congressional seat in 2018. The ad opens with an image of Ocasio-Cortez and the voiceover from Heng: “This is the face of socialism and ignorance. Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horrors of socialism?”

Then the Ocasio-Cortez image burns and reveals skulls from the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia.

“My father was minutes away from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life,” Heng said. “That’s socialism — forced obedience, starvation. Mine is the face of freedom. My skin is not white, I’m not outrageous, racist nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”

It’s quite possible, and even likely, that the broadcaster was unaware of the ad before it aired on locally owned stations. But the move, combined with Dancing with the Stars recently casting former Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, has many calling for a boycott of the Disney-owned network.

Station group Sinclair is frequently accused of having a strong conservative lean, and last year ran an Inside Socialism special (which also used bombastic imagery and criticized AOC) and was hosted by former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka.

Heng also replied to AOC on Twitter:

ABC has no comment on the matter while Sinclair has not commented.

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