A post from an obscure Twitter account tried to mock new left-wing political and media darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with an edited clip of an old video showing her dancing in an homage to The Breakfast Club. It caused a social media stir, with the mainstream media and liberals lining up to cheer it and condemn conservatives for being offended by it. The only problem: Conservatives were not actually offended by it.
New York Times reporter Tiffany May piled on in a story posted Friday at nytimes.com, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dancing Video Was Meant as a Smear, but It Backfired.”
On the eve of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s swearing-in as the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, video footage from her college days suddenly appeared on the internet.
The video showed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 29, dancing barefoot on a rooftop. If it was meant to be an embarrassing leak, it backfired badly.
Backfired on whom? She continued:
The dance video -- a mash-up of 1980s dance moves from the movie “The Breakfast Club” and the music of “Lisztomania,” by the French band Phoenix -- proved to be too endearing to many social media users. Some also saw a right-wing effort to undermine Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal Democrat known as “AOC” among her fans.
Since Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described Puerto Rican “girl from the Bronx,” was elected in New York in November, she has been a target of conservatives and far-right groups. She won political notice after jolting the Democratic establishment by defeating an incumbent congressman to win the primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District in a virtual landslide in June.
That’s misleading. Ocasio-Cortez became a media star right after she defeated her Democratic opponent, Rep. Joseph Crowley:
But her origin story, which saw her go from being a bartender to a lawmaker, has been dismissed by some on the right. Her clothes have come in for particular scrutiny, with a conservative journalist criticizing a fitted coat and jacket she wore as “too nice for a girl who struggles.”
Without defending that particular crack, there’s nothing untoward about criticizing the clothing choices of politicians. Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman has constantly criticized the fashion choices of First Lady Melania Trump (who was elected by no one, unlike Ocasio-Cortez) and the paper can’t stop praising Nancy Pelosi’s Oval Office sunglasses:
When the dance video emerged, many internet users wondered what exactly was incriminating about a windswept Ms. Ocasio-Cortez twirling enthusiastically. The footage was from a four-minute-20-second dance video made by Boston University students in 2010, when Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was an undergraduate.
Again, no one but the original Twitter poster (@AnonymousQ1776, now deleted) was scandalized by the clip. That doesn’t stop May from finding fans of the left-wing congresswoman:
.... Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, had been using Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s video among other “Lisztomania” and “Breakfast Club” mash-ups to illustrate the concept of fair use in his lectures, he said in an email on Friday. “That may explain why she seemed so familiar to me when she appeared on the national stage,” he wrote, adding, “Obviously, her coolness long predates her political brilliance.”
No one May quoted (or reproduced supporting tweets from, like controversial race activist Shaun King) disputed Ocasio-Cortez’s political brilliance.
Then May really got deep, indirectly assuming the guilt of Justice Brett Kavanaugh of unsubstantiated accusations thrown at him during his confirmation hearing:
Alluding to the culture of reckoning that followed the “Me Too” era and the double standards that affect women and men in the public sphere, the comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani tweeted:
“Man sexually assaults women in high school: ‘That was so long ago!’ Woman dances in high school: ‘We must set her ablaze.’”
The Times’ latest knee-jerk liberal mockery of conservatives, who stand accused on absolutely no evidence of being offended by something, puts one in mind of Times reporter Liam Stack’s similar story about the nonexistent conservative meltdown over Starbucks Christmas cups back in November 2017. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist argued about Stack’s nothing of a story, headlined “Starbucks Is Criticized for Its Holiday Cups. Yes, Again.” Hemingway argued:
...the entirety of the evidence for this New York Times article appears to be -- and I’m completely serious -- a single tweet by someone with 16 followers as of press time. And that tweet isn’t even mentioned in the Times’ article! It is included in articles the Times links to...the story goes off the rails immediately, with a verbose and non-specific lead. The main takeaway is that Starbucks gets pushback for its Christmas cups each year and “This year, critics wonder if Starbucks is using its holiday cups to promote homosexuality.”