The Establishment’s Hatred of Tulsi Gabbard — Explained

Jake Mercier
Apr 15 · 11 min read
Design by Jake Mercier

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard has been the victim of a slew of establishment media attacks since she announced her presidential campaign on January 11, 2019. Since then, she’s been attacked by ‘journalists’ and media pundits who have called her an Assad apologist, Putin’s puppet, a Kremlin stooge, a long-shot, and even unqualified for the job.

Why is this? Let’s explore. (Give this story a *clap* or share with friends!)

Tulsi has focused her campaign on smarter foreign policy that ends regime change wars and American meddling in countries around the world, which have cost taxpayers trillions of dollars over the past two decades — money that she says we should be spending at home to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare access, and invest in the future.

Moreover, she has focused her campaign message on ending anew Cold War,’ which has been perpetuated by repeated failed policies in post-Cold War Administrations. While the media establishment and political elite have been focused on the now debunked conspiracy of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, Tulsi has repeatedly stressed the importance of talking about the needs of our people right here at home.

Despite what the media will have you believe, anti-war candidates have historically been popular with the American electorate. During his 2008 campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama spoke many times about the failure in Iraq, criticized our nation-building efforts, and stressed the need to bring our troops home.

Once in office, however, Obama — who later won a Nobel Peace Prize — kept policies in line with the foreign policy establishment. He authorized the drone-strike killing of American citizens without due process, expanded powers of government agency spying, and pushed us into expensive and failed foreign wars and regime change efforts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, among others.

(U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

Even during the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush claimed he’d only send troops abroad with an “exit strategy,” and he’d be “very careful about using our troops as nation builders.” Moreover, then Vice Presidential candidate Dick Cheney claimed that America must not act as “an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world, taking down governments.” We all know how that turned out.

On the other hand, Tulsi, along with Sen. Rand Paul, has introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act of 2017 (an act that has been repeatedly blocked for a vote), of which only 14 members of the 435 member House of Representatives have co-sponsored.

Why? We could start by looking at the strong ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia — a supposed ally of the U.S., in which we use for oil and influence in the region, who regularly promotes state-sponsored torture and the public execution of LGBT people, and who stones women for being raped. Saudi Arabia also has a history of “backing radical Islamist causes and organizations” and was just caught sending U.S. weapons to “Al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen.”

According to Tulsi’s press release, “The bipartisan legislation (H.R.608 and S.532) would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and it will prohibit the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorists.”

Congresswoman Gabbard urging support for the Stop Arming Terrorist Act (1/13/17)

It seems that we’ve left a traditional left-right paradigm. In today’s day in age, we are seeing a new fight: the people versus the establishment. Whoever you may have voted for in 2016 — Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump — the contrast was quite clear.

Since the election, media conglomerates like CNN and MSNBC have brainwashed the Democratic base by peddling debunked rumors of Russian ‘collusion’ involving the Trump campaign. Rachel Maddow pushed Russiagate for over two years on her show, mentioning Russia during 53 percent of her broadcasts in early 2017, according to the Intercept. MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently pushed a spy-novelesque, Manchurian Candidate conspiracy theory that President Trump has been a “Russian asset since 1987.” Seriously.

Of course, the mainstream media won’t address what was inside the leaked DNC emails that triggered the Russia investigation — the massive, corrupt conspiracy to subvert democracy, in which the Clinton campaign coordinated with the Democratic establishment to rig the primary election against Bernie Sanders.

The only person to come out against corruption and endorse Bernie at the time? Not ‘progressive heroes’ Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, or Kirsten Gillibrand…but then-vice chair of the DNC, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who stepped down from her position.

The leaked emails revealed that debate questions were given to Mrs. Clinton before televised town halls, money was funneled through the DNC straight to her campaign, and a systematic effort was launched to make sure that hundreds of delegates were awarded to Hillary in states that she lost by huge margins.

Tulsi’s original sin was speaking out against their narrative.

NBC recently published a reckless exposeé that they sat on for months before releasing it on Tulsi’s campaign launch day. This piece insinuated that Tulsi’s campaign was being fueled by Russian bots on Twitter, claiming that “several experts who track websites and social media linked to the Kremlin have also seen what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard.”

What did they fail to mention about these experts? The ‘sources’ that they cite is a company called New Knowledge, founded by a man named Jonathan Morgan who, just months before, who had been caught planting hundreds of fake ‘Russian bots’ during the Alabama special election between Doug Jones and the infamous Roy Moore, which led to bans by Facebook. At the same time, Morgan (who now claims his actions were all a part of some “experiment”) used this fraudulent information to grow his Russian-bot-catching business.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald has reported that “NBC News principally relied on” the information by New Knowledge to spread its “inflammatory, sensationalistic, McCarthyite storyline that Gabbard’s candidacy is supported by the Kremlin.”

As of April 2019, NBC has still not issued a retraction to this story, even as Sen. Doug Jones calls for a federal investigation into Jonathan Morgan and New Knowledge.

The establishment media has continued attacks on Tulsi, calling her an ‘Assad Apologist’ because she has been critical of U.S. decision making in fighting in an unwinnable war. She has seen, first hand, the cost of reckless regime change wars, and doesn’t want to increase human suffering in the country and create a vacuum that could lead to a resurgence of ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Tulsi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, previously visited Syria on a House-approved “fact-finding mission” to better understand the suffering of the people on the ground and more about the devastating civil war, as many congresspeople do.

When pressed by Jake Tapper as to the motives of the trip and why she took an impromptu meeting with Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian President, she said “Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria. In order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him.” She has previously called Assad a “brutal dictator,” but stopped short of labeling him an “enemy of the U.S.” explaining that “such a term has military implications.”

Tulsi amid destruction in Syria, 2017.

On ‘The View’ in mid-February, Tulsi was asked if we should be involved when we see atrocities abroad, Tulsi said “we have to understand, looking at Iraq, Libya, and Syria, for example, that there are brutal dictators in the world, and unfortunately people are suffering as a result of that.

But in so many examples throughout history, when the United States takes action and intervenes and launches these regime change wars to topple these dictators, the suffering of the people increases. Their lives are made worse off then they were before. There is far more death and destruction.” She then cited the aftermath of the U.S. toppling dictator Gaddafi in Lybia, in which left a vacuum that allowed terrorist networks and sex traffickers to thrive. Joy Behar then responded with confusion, asking, “and, so, those groups weren’t there before?”

Co-host Meghan McCain then interrupted Tulsi, an ex-combat veteran, saying “When I hear the name Tulsi Gabbard, I think of ‘Assad apologist.’ I think of someone who comes back to the United States and is spouting propaganda from Syria,” seemingly denying the true history of American failed regime change efforts that have lasted for more than a century. McCain isn’t the only one lying, and it’s emblematic of a larger media narrative that is being pushed. McCain asked Tulsi if she would call Assad an “enemy of the United States.”

Tulsi calmly responded to McCain saying “an enemy of the United States is someone who threatens our safety and our security. There is no denying that Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator. There is no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people. There are other terrorist groups in the area who have used similar chemical weapons…This is an unfortunate thing that wrenches at every one of our hearts. This is not something I’m disputing — nor am I apologizing [for], or defending these actions. My point is…since the United States started waging a covert regime change war in Syria starting in 2011, the lives of the Syrian people have not been improved…Their suffering has not decreased; it has increased…leaving us in a place where Al Qaeda is a stronger threat there than they ever have been before…and Iran has greater influence in Syria than ever before” [emphasis added].

On the Joe Rogan show, Bari Weiss, a New York Times contributor who gets paid for her opinions, claimed that Tulsi was the “motherload of bad ideas” and an “Assad toadie.” When asked what a “toadie” is, she was forced to admit she didn’t know, and could not defend her position on Tulsi after being pressed by Joe Rogan. Seriously, Joe Rogan of all people stumped a New York Times Journalist. Incredible. (I love you, Joe, by the way).

CNN, SXSW, and other ‘town hall’ hosters continue this trend of asking Tulsi and other progressive candidates loaded questions on these town halls. As it turns out, they have had numerous accusations of planting manufactured questions and other political activists and operatives in these crowds.

Recently, Tulsi became the only 2020 candidate — along with Mike Gravel — to come out against the arrest of journalist Julian Assange (apparently for a weak, nearly decade-old charge and had curiously nothing to do with Russian meddling in the election). The charge alleged a conspiracy between Assange and Chelsea Manning to steal U.S. defense secrets; Assange said something to the effect of “curious eyes do not run dry in my experience,” essentially implying that he would publish further documents by Manning if obtained.

That is blatantly disregarding what all reporters and journalists do — talk to their source and ask for as much information as possible. The Obama administration decided not to prosecute Assange because they felt that it would run too close to destroying press freedoms and the First Amendment. Glenn Greenwald with the Intercept further explains the indictment here.

Not only has Tulsi been making the rounds on the media networks who are peddling a strong anti-Wikileaks message, but she has also called them out. She recently tweeted, “The arrest of #JulianAssange is meant to send a message to all Americans and journalists: be quiet, behave, toe the line. Or you will pay the price.”

Tulsi doesn’t subscribe to the narrative of the mainstream media — she isn’t focused on a big donor network or winning in every race. She’s focused on the policies that she is passionate about and that affect the American people. She often talks about how she, as a combat veteran, has seen the first-hand cost of war, and how that has informed her experiences. One can only hope the American electorate will look beyond the narrative of the mainstream media in 2020.

Disclaimer: I have donated $15 to Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 campaign to make sure that she makes the debate stage. I have also donated $3 to the campaign of Andrew Yang for the same reason. I did not vote in the 2016 election.

Citizen Source isn’t funded by big money donors. It’s funded by everyday Americans.

How can you help? Just give us a 👏 on Medium OR share this story to keep us going — we appreciate your support!

Jake Mercier is a filmmaker, writer, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of CitizenSource, writing with a focus on U.S. politics, foreign intervention, national security, and privacy issues. He is from Dallas, Texas, but currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Want to join CitizenSource? Email us:


News and analysis, by and for citizens — not the mainstream media.

Jake Mercier

Written by

Independent Journalist. Writing about politics, foreign policy, and film! Editor of @CitizenSource — news analysis by and for citizens, not the establishment.


News and analysis, by and for citizens — not the mainstream media.