Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Cyntoia Brown is granted clemency from her life sentence, Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes her first-ever sick day, and the Internet is abuzz over AOC. Have a terrific Tuesday.
• All about AOC. Have you, by chance, heard of a freshman congresswoman from New York named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
We’re only eight days into the year, but it’s already crystal clear that Ocasio-Cortez—or AOC, in Twitter parlance—is driving the 2019 news cycle.
Last week it was Dancegate, when a video of Ocasio-Cortez taking part in a Breakfast Club homage was “leaked” by an anonymous Twitter account. And while no one seemed terribly bothered by her college-era dance moves, the new rep, flexing her considerable social media skills, responded by tweeting a dance video of her own. The whole affair seems pretty silly—until you consider the failed smear is just one of a volley of attempts to belittle Ocasio-Cortez based on her age and gender. (Not convinced? On Friday, GOP strategist and chairman of the Great America PAC Ed Rollins called the congresswoman “the little girl” during an appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight.)
The AOC discussion has gotten somewhat more substantive this week, thanks in part to her Sunday night 60 Minutes interview. In her conversation with Anderson Cooper, Ocasio-Cortez owned the “radical” label, said that President Trump is a racist (“No question”), and claimed the media scrutinizes funding of progressive policies far more closely than it does that of, say, military initiatives or tax cuts. “We only ask how we pay for it on issues of housing, healthcare and education,” she said. (Read on for similar questions about new California Governor Gavin Newsom’s groundbreaking paid family leave proposal.)
Most of the Monday buzz about the interview focused on her response to a question about instances when she has made factually inaccurate statements. Her response: “If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they’re missing the forest for the trees. I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right….And whenever I make a mistake. I say, ‘Okay, this was clumsy.’ and then I restate what my point was. But it’s— it’s not the same thing as— as the president lying about immigrants. It’s not the same thing, at all.”
A couple of stories took issue with her assessment, and the debate continued much of yesterday afternoon on Twitter. (I’ll let you all draw your own conclusions on who made the strongest case.) Meanwhile, the Washington Post and the New York Times attempted to drill into the actual meat of AOC’s policy ideas, with looks at her tax proposals.
Whether or not you agree with Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, you have to admit that she’s made a historic splash in her first five days in office. Something tells me we’ll be hearing (much, much) more about the freshman rep in the days and months to come.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Bringing sexy back. At a Fortune Brainstorm Tech dinner at this year’s CES, my colleague Michal Lev-Ram spoke with AMD CEO Lisa Su, who talked about the revelation last year that security holes left AMD hardware vulnerable to hacking. “[I]t was a bit of a wakeup call for us manufacturers,” she said. There was plenty of positive developments to talk about too, like AMD ending last year as the top stock in the S&P 500, the marking of AMD’s 50th anniversary (an especially impressive feat since it seemed left for dead in 2016), and opportunities that are bubbling up from technological disruption. “Hardware may be sexy again,” Su said. “That’s exciting for us.”
• Clemency for Cyntoia. Cyntoia Brown, the woman serving a life sentence in prison for killing a man when she was 16 and a victim of sex trafficking, was granted an early release by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Brown has already served 15 years in prison; her release is set for August.
• Get well soon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed her first day on the bench since she was appointed to the Supreme Court 25 years ago. After her lung cancer surgery and broken ribs this fall, Ginsburg missed oral arguments on Monday, but still worked from briefs and filings at home.
• Court appearance. Kevin Spacey pled not guilty as he appeared in court for the first time over sexual assault allegations. Spacey is accused of groping an 18-year-old busboy at a Nantucket bar in 2016.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: RetailMeNot’s CMO Marissa Tarleton is its new CEO. Holly Weiss returned to McKesson Corporation as SVP of investor relations. Healthcare consulting and accounting firm PYA promoted Heather Martin to tax principal.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• California dreaming. New California Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a plan that would provide six months of paid parental leave to families in the state. His administration, however, hasn’t yet figured out where the budget for the proposal—which would be by far the most ambitious in the country on paid leave—is coming from.
New York Times
• Slowly but surely. Goldman Sachs has invested $100 million in women-led companies, progress toward a goal of $500 million. Goldman hopes the initiative will boost its reputation in business—rather than on Wall Street—broadly.
• Luck of the Irish. For 235 years, the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in the City of New York has excluded women from its annual dinner before the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. But this year, the Irish heritage organization will at last make the evening coed.
New York Times
• Change the channel. Another gap between men and women: the leisure, or free time, gap. Men have a half-hour more free per day, and there’s an interesting correlation here: men, on average, watch half-an-hour more TV per day than women do.