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Tulsi Gabbard has done the unpardonable: criticized US global hegemony

Media Analysis
on 27 Comments

The Times full spread hit piece on Tulsi Gabbard is a new low, even for the Times. It is yellow journalism half disguised as human interest, with a few random points of political information.

Headline: “Unorthodox Campaign Shows Isolationism May Have a Hold.”

Opening sentence: “Tulsi Gabbard is running for president of a country that she believes has wrought horror on the world.”

Their initial strategy was simply to starve her out – no coverage, no candidacy. Now, because she’s still in and lately told a truth that weakened the Times choice Kamala Harris, they are giving her the Bernie 2016 treatment: i.e. this candidate is outlandish, absurd, unaccountably heartless (her sister fell off a horse while the story was being written and her reaction was lacking in warmth), mystical (she spoke at a solar panel dedication event), a tool of the wicked (she points out that Syria never went to war against the US) – and possibly a Russian agent.

Among Times readers, fewer than one in 50 is likely to be a supporter of Gabbard, but turning off voters is the secondary purpose of such an article. The primary purpose is to shape attitudes at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, the Washington Post, and the Times sister publication The New Yorker. Legitimize flat-out condescension and contempt in the influential outlets and you keep her numbers down, since people won’t hear her voice at all.

A war veteran, an experienced and respected lawmaker, and a woman of color, but she commits the unpardonable error of criticizing worldwide US hegemony and so they follow the corporate reflex: make her a laughingstock.

Postscript. Gabbard stands up to an MSNBC hack who tries to overwhelm her with pro-war talking points. MSNBC is part of the perpetual war machine, as is the Times; they backed the Iraq war, and they’ll do the same for the next war, whether it’s in North Africa, east Asia, or Ukraine.

David Bromwich

David Bromwich's latest book is "American Breakdown: The Trump Years and How They Befell Us." He teaches literature at Yale and is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has written on politics and culture for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke's selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty.

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27 Responses

  1. saqib on August 3, 2019, 4:38 pm

    The unpardonable thing that Tulsi Gabbard did was to go hang out with Bashar Assad and refuse to call him a war criminal.

    Being disqualified from being President for this behavior is completely fair and just.

    • JWalters on August 3, 2019, 9:07 pm

      She did not “hang out” with Assad. That, as you probably well know, is a phrase used to mean friends hanging out with each other. It is NOT used for a business meeting, which is what Tulsi had.

      The oligarchy interviewers have been consistently trying to put words in her mouth, especially divisive words. And she has steadily refused to be baited. “Don’t you trust your own intelligence agency?”, they baited. Tulsi answered straightforwardly that we had been lied into Iraq by own own intelligence agency. (Had the professional interviewer forgotten that? Or was she merely repeating the oligarchy script?)

      And as Tulsi pointed out in response to that fact-free, gratuitous smear, FDR met with Stalin when it served a constructive purpose.

      But it all shows the great extent of the tentacles of falsity and evil. From MSNBC to CNN to you.

    • tikkun on August 4, 2019, 6:28 am

      You’re just regurgitating a received opinion… she’s called him out numerous times. And notably on The View.

      https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/430798-gabbard-pushes-back-after-meghan-mccain-suggests-shes-an-assad-apologist

      “But Gabbard accused the conservative host of misrepresenting her comments.

      “You’re putting words in my mouth that I’ve never said,” Gabbard told McCain.

      “An enemy of the United States is someone who threatens our safety and our security. There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a brutal dictator. There’s no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people,” she continued.

      “This is not something that I’m disputing, nor am I apologizing or defending these actions,” the lawmaker said. “My point is that the reality we are facing here is that 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.””

      • JWalters on August 4, 2019, 8:03 pm

        Excellent quotes.

        I wonder about the mindset of people who use such vicious and absurd smears. They are obviously targeting a very low-information audience. And they clearly have an inverted moral compass. Who are they working for?

        Here’s another good take on this coordinated attack on Tulsi. Worthwhile comments, too.
        “Propagandists Freak Out Over Gabbard’s Destruction of Harris”
        https://consortiumnews.com/2019/08/02/propagandists-freak-out-over-gabbards-destruction-of-harris/

      • LibertyRising on August 8, 2019, 10:49 am

        Actually, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is in dispute. There is more than ample evidence that they WERE used by the U.S.-imported “rebels”.

        What is NOT in dispute is the use of chemical weapons by the United States in many conflicts, most famously Vietnam – Agent Orange. And don’t forget our profligate use of white phosphorous.

        When it comes to brutal means of inflicting mass casualties, our masters, sorry, our “leaders” take a back seat to no demon.

  2. just on August 3, 2019, 4:50 pm

    I don’t read the NYT, but I thank you for bringing this to my attention. David, I wrote something similar in a couple of comments in The Guardian with regard to the attacks on Biden and the silence with regard to Gabbard. I’m sickened by the whole display. She is an intelligent, seasoned veteran who has witnessed the catastrophes of US wars and their failed, imperialistic, hypocritical policies, and is a reasonable person. She seems full of regret and is willing to tell the American people and the WORLD how bad war is and can be. For so long, I have cared deeply about the insanity, but since Vietnam and the returning vets who were ignored and left alone to rot, Americans don’t give a damn. No coffins will be shown, eh? How about the death count of the US and those that all the ‘shock and awe’ have decimated ‘over there’??? The US and their Western ‘allies’ haven’t won a war in a long, long time… but the US has fought for their regional ‘allies’ and supplied them with arms and $$$ for a long time in MENA and it was for lies. How many millions of lives and trillions of dollars have been wasted and spent in these foolish and gruesome ventures? Could the US do better? Could they stop pursuing ‘regime change’ and instead try diplomacy and an unhypocritical change of vision and progress? I watched the debates and Gabbard was the only one who brought up FP. Others did speak about the US border and yet they still ignored the outright responsibility that the US has for the situation that the US created and creates in Central America… etc., etc.. I’ll stop now and thank you again.

  3. Keith on August 3, 2019, 4:59 pm

    DAVID BROMWICH- “The primary purpose is to shape attitudes at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, the Washington Post, and the Times sister publication The New Yorker.”

    Indeed, one of the most important functions of the imperial newspaper of record is to set the imperial meme which will then inform the “news” of the rest of the imperial media. And all of this against a woman who is a less militaristic version of business as usual. If she were to voice the same opinions as me, for instance, would the death squads be far away? This is a good indication of just how warlike the Deep State/Democrats have become.

    • JWalters on August 3, 2019, 9:23 pm

      I agree. It’s giving instructions, more than merely shaping attitudes.

  4. KathieMW on August 3, 2019, 7:44 pm

    I like her. She speaks the truth about the military industrial complex created by both sides.

    • JWalters on August 3, 2019, 9:16 pm

      I agree. Our war system is broken from corruption. Eisenhower warned about it. JFK tried to rein it in. Dubya fully succumbed.

  5. annie on August 3, 2019, 11:17 pm

    the media has done a damn good job of keeping the american people out of the loop on what’s happening in syria. the idea that what anyone following that war knows, that we are in bed with AQ over there, and isis too, is taboo. US helicopters have been spotted and filmed arriving to scoop up their assets just in the nick of time when SAA have come in to clean up the messes.

    in the msnbc interview embedded on the last link, even tho gabbard clear said “Idlib”, their transcription said this:

    “And secondly, this president has doubled down on support for al-Qaeda in continuing this regime change war in Syria, even threatening to use our own military to respond to anyone who tries to attack al-Qaeda in the city … in Syria where they are in control of and have this stronghold,”

    now what would be the point of not naming the town? because the transcriber didn’t know it, because they had no professional access to that information? impossible. they didn’t name the city because they don’t want people fact checking gabbard on their own. but what she’s saying is exactly true, and any casual observer of the war, following the war, should know this. there was an audible gasp when gabbard said we were working with AQ over there. (as i recall, tho maybe i was listening to my own gasp). it’s crossing the line into the abyss to say “threatening to use our own military to respond to anyone who tries to attack al-Qaeda in the city Idlib.” but it’s true.

    great takedown David Bromwich!

  6. Citizen on August 4, 2019, 8:24 am

    Did anyone here watch when Tulsi appeared as guest on The VIEW? All the regulars attacked her hot-headed, non-stop with obvious smearing lies, directly implying she was a traitor, etc. Tulsi remained unruffled, poised, and calmy spoke factual truth and clear conclusions. The VIEW has a big audience and the regular panel is stuffed with emotional women, constantly parroting cheap governmental propaganda. That panel thinks nothing of urging the killing of millions to “save” those abused abroad. They are the war mongers, with no factual knowledge of the real impact of our ‘humanitarian” regime change wars. Depressing as hell.

  7. Rob Roy on August 4, 2019, 2:14 pm

    I’m for Gabbard and support her. However, she’s wrong on one detail. Assad is not the “brutal dictator” she says and he has never used chemical weapons on the Syrians. These stories are lies as has been proven every time he’s accused. The US investigative team proved his innocence in the first accusation; Sy Hersh proved it, too, in his article that the NYT, WaPo, London Times and The Guardian refused to print; it was printed in Deir Welt in Germany where I read it. Douma was an obvious joke as is the White Helmets, a fake group created for propaganda. Anyway, the US Navy destroyed all the chemical weapons in Syria in 2006 and the military knows that, as does the NYT. (Bashar al Assad has a brutal, crazy brother who will do anything awful he can think up.) Ask yourself, how many interviews has the NYT, et.al., given Assad…or Putin, for that matter?
    Good article, Mondoweiss. Thanks.

  8. Misterioso on August 5, 2019, 10:39 am

    I like this woman!! She’s very smart, articulate, well informed, cool, calm and collected. Although the interviewer in the video above continuously interrupted and criticized her, she held her ground admirably and unlike any other contender I have heard thus far, came through as truly “presidential.” For one thing, as a veteran, she personally knows the horrors of war, which is an absolute must for a future president!!

    Bon chance Ms. Gabbard!!

    BTW, here’s another video of a recent interview with Ms. Gabbard:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=Cfp_IIdVnXs

    Short CNN Video, July 31/19

    “Tulsi Gabbard takes on Kamala Harris over her prosecutorial record in California and her record on criminal justice reform, the death penalty, and the war on drugs during the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit.”

  9. Elizabeth Block on August 5, 2019, 11:14 am

    Read the late Chalmers Johnson on the US military bases all over the world, so many that no one really knows how many there are. Americans don’t know about them. But the local people, on whose turf they have been planted, sure do.
    Do they improve the international reputation of the US? I doubt it.

    I have a button, copied from a bumper sticker I saw at an American folk festival:
    I LOVE MY COUNTRY
    BUT I THINK WE SHOULD START
    SEEING OTHER PEOPLE

  10. genesto on August 5, 2019, 12:28 pm

    Ms Gabbard has been on both sides on Israel/Palestine which is disappointing, given her knowledge and wisdom in international affairs. However, she has been slowly coming around, having just agreed to co-sponsor Ilhan Omar’s bill, H.Res. 496, protecting our right to boycott foreign countries – a bill that would forestall efforts by the Israel lobby to criminalize BDS support nationally.

    More importantly, right now, she is exposing and criticizing the US War Machine for what it is, something none of the other leading candidates – or any of our other political leaders, for that matter – has done to date, though Bernie is definitely moving in that direction. It’s a courageous move on her part, something that could potentially end her political career. For that, she needs our utmost support.

    • DaBakr on August 6, 2019, 2:57 am

      @g

      Gabbard is much more of a hawk then you seem to understand despite her views on US intervention in foreign conflict. She, at the very least, is not the typical democrat candidate and is absolutely nothing like Sanders.

      That said, I agree with what this author had to say. It is blatantly obvious that the left leaning US msm has ‘chosen’ Harris over all democrat candidates. Gabbard and Yang were both serious and credible candidates that CNN, MSNBC, NYT, and others have deemed ‘unworthy’. I also thought Gabbard’s attack on Harris as a prosecuter was fair and accurate.

      Btw- I too originally thought Gabbard’s meeting with Assad was inappropriate at the least. But if one reads Gabbard’s account of the meeting and what she learned subsequently about his undoubted use of chemical attacks on 1000s of his own people, women, babies and the elderly, it becomes clear she is not an apologist for Assad and his murderous clan. Her relative youth in forming her earlier views that syria not attacking the US is the reason to not intervene has been clarified by what she has since learned from her access to both classified and unclassified documents proving the danger and evil nature of the Assad clan in Syria

      • echinococcus on August 6, 2019, 8:43 am

        Zionism unhinged… “undoubted use of chemical attacks on 1000s of his own people, women, babies and the elderly”

        Proof?
        None.
        Then it is criminal propaganda.

      • genesto on August 6, 2019, 1:26 pm

        Agreed that Tulsi is not exactly the pacifist I’d want her to be. But she at least has spoken out against wars of choice for the sole purpose of regime change. That is a major step forward. This is something we should be debating in the halls of Congress, but we aren’t. So, bully for her for at least raising it in the debates.

        As for the Assad’s ‘undoubted’ use of chemical weapons, I guess you haven’t read what experts have found out time and time again after the charges were made, i.e. that there was no evidence of Assad’s using chemical weapons after all. That, in part, is because these later revelations are typically buried in the back of the newspaper or left to the so-called ‘fringe’ to report. When you think about it, if he really is the brutal murderer those who say he uses chemical weapons generally believe him to be, it really makes no sense for him to use such weapons only to kill a few hundred people each time, when all it does is turn the western press even more against him and provide a pretext for further rallying international support for removing him from power. His continued popularity among the citizens of Syria belies this false, fabricated image of him as a genocidal maniac intent on doing anything, including engaging in mass murder, just to stay in power.

        I’m afraid, on this issue at least, you’ve been played, bro!

      • DaBakr on August 18, 2019, 12:57 am

        @g

        “his continued popularity….” You mean in the tiny pocket of Syria that he controlled until big daddy putin saved his ass? He’s not popular, he is feared. And his use of chemicals on civilians was proven, the intelligence community in the US showed Gabbard the undisputed evidence and she changed her position accordingly. It’s all out there to explore.

        She still doesnt believe in forced(by the) US military regime change but her positions are definitely a different kind of democrat

  11. Tom Callaghan on August 5, 2019, 8:48 pm

    Tulsi Gabbard is a breath of fresh air. She is willing to call out the people who have been pushing to get us into “regime change” wars by name. Netanyahu for one. That kind of candor is rare.

    Hang in there Tulsi Gabbard!

    https://www.wednesdayswars.com

  12. Citizen on August 7, 2019, 4:49 am

    @TulsiGabbard: R.I.P. If fear of #Israel is what caused Gabbard to vote the @AIPAC line on the bill forbidding criticism of Israel, she won’t be able to stick to her line against Washington’s aggression in the Middle East. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/52044.htm#.XUqJeoMBP_s.twitter

    • genesto on August 7, 2019, 11:56 am

      Good point. Maybe you’re right here. Once again, it all comes down to people power overcoming the power of the Benjamins. I still like our chances in the long run.

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