Tulsi Gabbard

The New York Times Wonders Aloud If Tulsi Gabbard's Anti-War, Anti-Establishment Message Makes Her a Stooge for Nazis and Russian Bots

The article ignores Gabbard's arguments for a less interventionist foreign policy, preferring to speculate about foreigners and fascists.


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii) is a weird person running a weird presidential campaign. That doesn't make her a stooge for Nazis or Russian intelligence.

On Saturday, The New York Times published an article whose headline asks, "What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?" Gabbard's brief flirtation with boycotting the upcoming Democratic debate, Lisa Lerer writes, has "some Democrats wondering what, exactly, she is up to in the race, while others worry about supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media."

"Alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard," Lerer continues. "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." These are, of course, all stances that could appeal to progressive voters as well.

To make the case that something sinister is afoot, the Times relies on a mix of thin evidence, guilt by association, and conspiratorial framing of actions that any single-issue-focused dark horse candidate is liable to do.

That's particularly true of the Russian support Gabbard is supposedly receiving. The alleged evidence for this includes the popularity of a #kamalaharrisdestroyed hashtag that exploded on Twitter following Gabbard's criticism of Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) during a July debate, which the Times says "appeared to be amplified by a coordinated network of bot-like accounts."

The article notes that "no evidence of coordination between these networks and the campaign itself." It doesn't mention that a Twitter investigation found no evidence of bot activity boosting the hashtag. A Wall Street Journal article that initially advanced that theory later had its headline watered down.

Also cited as evidence of Russian support is data from the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), a project of the German Marshall Fund, which purportedly shows Gabbard getting a disproportionate amount of coverage from Russian state-sponsored media given her low poll numbers.

"The Russian activity could be part of a longer-term effort to drive a wedge among Democrats," mused ASD director Laura Rosenberger in the Times article. "This messaging has echoes of 2016."

The ASD's Hamilton 2.0 dashboard, which tracks the coverage of Russian state-sponsored outlets like RT and Sputnik, reports that Gabbard has been mentioned in 33 articles since mid-June, and on three TV broadcasts (two of which were about the Democratic debates as a whole).

So a candidate focused on criticizing U.S. foreign policy is getting mentioned about once every four days by outlets that also spend a lot of time criticizing U.S. foreign policy. This strikes me as falling short of a full-blown influence operation. The fact that Gabbard is polling poorly despite all that coverage from RT and Sputnik suggests this is, at worst, a rather ineffectual conspiracy to disrupt and divide Democrats.

There's a lot of nut-picking in the Times piece too. It spends a lot of time on ex-KKK leader David Duke's endorsement of Gabbard, and on neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin's evidence-free claims that his support was responsible for getting Gabbard over the donor threshold to qualify for the first two debates.

This might be fair to mention if Gabbard—a stridently progressive congresswoman of color—had actually done anything to court the support of explicit right-wing racists. But she has done the opposite, forcibly denouncing Duke and white nationalism when asked.

Lerer notes her disavowal of Duke, but then immediately implies that Gabbard is seeing support from people like him: "But her frequent appearances on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show have buoyed her support in right-wing circles."

Gabbard's criticism of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gets the same treatment: The Times acknowledges a non-sinister explanation for Gabbard's stance while hinting that worse is afoot. Longshots like Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson have joined Gabbard in criticizing the DNC's criteria for getting into the debates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) has gone so far as to say the 2016 Democratic primary was "rigged" in Hillary Clinton's favor. But when Gabbard says this sort of thing, Lerer writes that it's "an argument that reminds some Democrats of the narrative pushed by Russian actors during the 2016 presidential contest, when an operation by internet trolls worked to manipulate American public opinion."

It's true that no other Democratic candidates have volunteered to go on Tucker Carlson's show (although Carlson has praised Warren's economic program). But it shouldn't be surprising that Gabbard, with low poll numbers and a campaign that's focused as much on spreading her anti-interventionism message as it is about actually winning the nomination, would jump at an opportunity to go on prime-time television for a sympathetic interview about ending wars in the Middle East.

A byproduct of running an anti-establishment campaign is that you end up criticizing people and institutions that various kooks and jerks also happen to hate. But there's a distinction between that and actively encouraging the support of those kooks and jerks.

The media should be able to make this distinction, and to criticize candidates' positions on their own terms. But Lerer prefers to ignore Gabbard's arguments for a less interventionist foreign policy. I guess that might get in the way of all those conspiratorial speculations.

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  1. The New York Times Wonders Aloud

    … is not a headline that denotes an article worthy of consideration.

    1. Did the New York Times cover this during the midterm elections last year – the Communist Party USA promoted left-wing Democratic candidates – “the common goals to flip Republican districts at this dangerous moment are a point of unity going forward that we should find the ways to foster.”


      1. But were they Russian?

      2. Thank you NYT. I really really wanted to not vote again, but you just gave me a reason to go and cast my ballot for Tulsi in the primary, and maybe write her in for the general (if I don’t paste a dick pic to the ballot)…

        1. As a decline-to-state registrant in California, I am not allowed to participate in California’s open primary. That right is reserved to Democrats who want to influence the GOP primary.

          Thinking of briefly re-registering just to cast my vote her way. Her domestic policies suck, but her sensibility on other topics is refreshing from the left side of the aisle.

    2. saw it too. issue full of decibels.

    3. Tulsi is so much smarter then most of the clowns on that stage. All we hear is debate gaga. That’s a Queen reference. They’re just making me vote for Trump. He’s a maniac but it’s awfully funny. I know that’s sad.

  2. The current “line” seems to be that President Trump should have waged war against a NATO ally (Turkey) without a Congressional declaration of war.

    So coming from such sources, denunciation of Gabbard is a sign she’s doing something right.

    1. President Trump should have waged war against a NATO ally (Turkey) without a Congressional declaration of war.

      In another universe, Trump could have told Erdogan “we don’t believe a violent resolution to this situation is in order. Is this important enough to you to attack a NATO ally?”

    2. If Trump had just left the troops in place Turkey would have had to invade another country to attack our troops so that completely eviscerates your belief that we had to declare war on Turkey to prevent them from attacking our (former) allies in NE Syria but instead Trump invited the Turks in knowing the Kurds would have to submit to Russia and Assad for protection. It’s insanity.

      1. You are the dumbest poster on these boards and you should neck yourself.

    3. Given that we’re already in Syria without a congressional authorization, I guess they just figured why not. Although I get the impression that a lot of our lawmakers (as certainly most americans) aren’t aware that Turkey is part of NATO.

      You’d think that knowing which countries we’re obligated by treaty to defend against invasion would be a low bar for our statesmen. Then again, the Washington consensus has for so long been “all of them” that I guess they got out of the habit of trying to itemize them.

  3. Somebody better check on OBL, I swear I just heard a popping sound like somebody’s head exploding.

  4. Anyone who questions the perpetual war on Eastasia must be taken down.

    1. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

      1. And Oceania has always been our steadfast ally in that war….

  5. Probably should be “nit-picking” unless you kids have a new meme. “Nits” were, and are, the eggs of head lice, which you probably have never had.

    1. “Nut-picking” definitely sounds gross.

    2. Which is where the term “nit-picking” comes from. Duh.

      1. I’ve always thought nits were the little bugs chimpanzees like to pick out of each other’s hair so much…

    3. If one actually *reads* the article, one would note that “nut-picking” is exactly what was meant (and is a play on “nit-picking”). The NYT is nit-picking, which is focusing on minor things in a way that overemphasizes their importance. But the play on words that is intended is that they are nit-picking by focusing on nuts in a way that overemphasizes their importance, hence “nut-picking”.

  6. Anyone questioning that the USA should serve as World Cop, must be in favor of NAZIs and Russian bots taking over the USA!

    Binary thinking…

    SQRLSY One is in favor of goodness and coolness!!! Anyone against me in any way, must be in favor of badness and icky-poo-ness!!!

  7. The NYT is really committed to conspiracy theories to explain political activities they do not like.

    I wonder who they are considering “alt right” and “white nationalist” that have praised Gabbard, a long with throwing “libertarian” as a descriptor on the same level of repute.

    1. I wonder who they are considering “alt right” and “white nationalist”


      1. “Alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard,”

        Sounds familiar…Kulaks and wrechers, reactionaries and paper tigers, jews and communists. The favorite memes of dictatorial regimes of all stripes.

  8. >A byproduct of running an anti-establishment campaign is that you end up criticizing people and institutions that various kooks and jerks also happen to hate.

    a. lose the word “that” for one article. try it you’ll like it.

    b. the by-product is she pisses off the Establishment. *they’re* the jerks and kooks who should be hated.

  9. I’m going to be sexist and wonder aloud that the perhaps the reason for the personal attacks and conspiracy-mongering is Gabbard is the best-looking Democrat in the field.

    1. Yes, true…

      Minor suggested improvements though:
      Donkey-ears for handle-grips for oral sex! (Not just for “D” affiliation markings).

      Shorter, with a flat top to her head, with protruding rims around round indentations, as places to keep your beers or other drinks! Like on the floor of your car!

    2. I don’t believe that. Kamala Harris was certainly very attractive and they loved her right up until they couldn’t defend her anymore.

      No, it’s because Tulsi is reasonable and amenable to bipartisanship. Plus she’s really for real anti war.

      1. Gabbard is intelligent, well spoken, personable and physically very attractive. Harris is a talking point robot, can’t speak extemporaneously, hard to stomach personally and has average looks at best.

        If I had to choose one as a neighbor, Gabbard is the obvious choice. If Harris moved next door to me, I would consider running away and living in the forest on grub worms and grass.

        1. “If Harris moved next door to me, I would consider running away and living in the forest on grub worms and grass.”

          I like it!!! A+ for creative writing!

      2. It’s almost like Tulsi realizes she has to get independent and unaffiliated voters to win the general.

        She isn’t using the time honored Clinton tactic of moving to the Left during the primary then moving further left during the general.

    3. Shes at least closer being actually hot than Gary Johnson was to being legitimately libertarian…

  10. “Alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard,” Lerer continues. “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.” These are, of course, all stances that could appeal to progressive voters as well.


  11. If you’re still reading or clinging to these news organizations in any way, shape or form, you’re wrong. Flat… wrong.

  12. No, but being a progressive and a Democrat makes her a proto-fascist.

  13. Anyone who doesn’t support the Military Industrial Complex is a Nazi.

    1. Yes, isn’t that the strangest and stupidest inversion of reality? The NAZIs were nationalistic warmongers… So then we have to be nationalistic warmongers in order to NOT be NAZIs!?!? WTF?!?!?!

  14. Ech, maybe it’s time to give up and let them set the agenda and pick the sides. I’m starting to like the Nazis and Russians. And no, I’m not joking. But yes, it is funny.

  15. “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.”

    A lot of Tulsi’s policies suck, but unlike other Dems, she genuinely seems to love the US.

  16. Really a sad commentary on NYT more than anything else. This publication repeatedly engages in malign behavior, and has become nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Progtard Left (Communists).

    NYT is the vanguard of malign behavior by the Fourth Estate. Our Republic is being torn apart, and NYT shares culpability for this.

    1. You never look at the Washington Post, do you?

  17. Lots of Liberals apparently believe that anyone not in complete alignment with whatever the Progressive platform is this week are Russian bots.

    1. It’s fun when people who have known me since grade school either call me a Russian bot, or don’t point out to their friends who call me a Russian bot that they have known me since grade school, so if I’m a Russian bot it must the result of a long-term deep-cover operation that started before I was five.

  18. The New York Times is just angry that a Democrat if off message. Democrats are supposed to be warmongering drug warriors, and it’s embarrassing that one of the twenty on stage won’t stick to their talking points.

    Also libertarians are the same as white nationalists and Trump boosters. Everyone knows that. The grey lady never lies.

  19. Interesting, The New York Times writes a “hit piece” against Representative Gabbard three days before the “debate” that The New York Times is going to help moderate.

    I wonder what sort of questions New York Times national editor Marc Lacey will ask of Representative Gabbard, and what statements accusations Mr. Lacey will preface his questions with.

    1. You are spot on – there won’t be questions as much as accusations and interrogation. To her credit, she always maintains her poise…in situations where I would flat out lose my s***.

  20. I’m old enough to remember the late 50’s and early 60’s. I had two uncles who were Birchers. They thought Kennedy was a Communist.
    I feel like I’m living through that era again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called a Russian bot online. It’s depressing.

    1. I actually kind of revel in the fact that extremists on either side make the claim that I’m an extremist from the other side. If everybody thinks I’m so far on the other side of them, I’m either totally heinous, or I’m doing something right. There are enough non-partisan folks who agree with various different positions I mention that I’m pretty sure I’m not totally heinous.

  21. Thank you. Was shocked and saddened to see such an unbalanced biased article from nyt. Good to get some balance.

    Fwiw, don’t see anything weird about Tulsi, just someone with integrity trying her best.

    1. You shouldn’t be shocked or saddened – they have been doing it for decades. It is not a news organization, but a propaganda tool.

      The press/media in the USA has completely ceased doing its real job, and now just regurgitates corporate/government talking points.

  22. What is despicable is the Left’s disdain for the fact that some extremists like some of the views of conservatives – as if being liked by extremists cancels everything else good about someone. NYT writers are most despicable for making use of that slant.

  23. From what I know of her so far, Tulsi is the only candidate that doesn’t immediately make me want to vomit, though truth be told I could not see myself voting for anyone from either duopolist dinosaur party.

    The fact that the Times obviously hates her is an okay extra point in her favor and it also speaks volumes about what a rag that paper is. They have long lead the charge toward journalist irrelevance.

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  25. Oh, do they mean that NYT that helped lie us into an illegal war in Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, including children? The same NYT that refuses to report that we are funding and arming a genocide in Yemen? That NYT? The NYT that ALWAYS helps support war, and is a puppet/tool of the military/industrial complex? That NYT?

    These MFers are beneath contempt.

    Let’s look at this rationally: (I know – something the NYT will NEVER do…Gabbard is currently a member of the US military. Were she to be any form of “foreign agent” or acting on behalf of foreign interests, don’t you think her commanding officers would have a problem with that? WHich they apparently don’t, so NYT and all warmongers can go pound sand.

    1. Russian support for Tulsi Gabbard would hardly be surprising given their philosophy of election nobbling. Last time around they supported all manner of fringe causes, from California / Texas independence to Black Lives Matter. The idea is to fragment the public and cause any election results to be viewed with skepticism. I doubt very much that Tusli Gabbard is a Russian agent, or even vaguely sympathetic to Russian interests, but that doesn’t mean the Russians can’t or won’t use her candidacy for their own anti-american purposes.

      1. I didn’t know “nobbling” was a word, let alone a philosophy

        1. The only thing worse than a nobbler is a knacker.

  26. In the Finnish language, the word “kamala” means “horrible”.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    Warren is taking corporate money, so she is tainted.

    The DNC hates Gabbard because she will actually change things, and hit the donor class.

  27. Never take the word of the NY Times about anything. If they say the sun is shining, grab your umbrella.

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