Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) used a question about her position on the war in Syria to criticize the media during the Democratic debate Tuesday night.

She condemned the war, its bipartisan supporters and the media that has “been championing and cheerleading” the conflict.

“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing ‘regime change’ war in Syria that started in 2011, along with many in the mainstream media, who have been championing and cheerleading this regime change war,” Gabbard said on the Ohio debate stage.

She continued, “Not only that but, the New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war. Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist, and all these different smears.”

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Gabbard may have been referring to CNN analyst Bakari Sellers, who called her “a puppet for the Russian government” just hours before the debate.

“I firmly believe that Tulsi Gabbard stands on that stage and is the antithesis to what the other 11 individuals stand for,” Sellers told other analysts during a panel discussion. “Especially when it comes to issues such as foreign policy,” Sellers explained. “There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.”

His claim seemed to shock the other panelists and went unsupported.

“How is there no question?” CNN host Alisyn Camerota replied.

The New York Times clarified that an article titled “What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?” did not imply she is a Russian asset, but stated that she is often in Russian state news media. In February, she told MSNBC that Syrian dictator is not a good person, but is “not the enemy of the United State.” Six months later, Gabbard called Assad a “brutal dictator.”

However, the article appears to link Gabbard to some of her supporters.

“On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Gabbard,” the article reads. “They like the Hawaiian congresswoman’s isolationist foreign policy views. They like her support for drug decriminalization. They like what she sees as censorship by big technology platforms.”

Gabbard, a Democratic Samoan woman, has tried to separate herself from her alt-right followers. The Times article says that “her frequent appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show have buoyed her support in right-wing circles.”

Conservative media outlets joined Gabbard in criticizing the Times for publishing the “smear.”

Washington Examiner writer Brad Polumbo critiqued the article saying, “Fringe figures are going to support somebody, and Gabbard has denounced their support in no uncertain terms.”


He continued, “No one can point to any actual racism in Gabbard’s record, so this amounts to little more than a vicious smear of a candidate who dares stray from mainline Democrat orthodoxy.”


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