HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard turned her gaze away from her fellow White House contenders and toward the media, claiming the New York Times and CNN were waging a “smear campaign” against her.
She said the media companies ― which hosted the debate in Ohio ― were trying to paint her as a “Russian asset” and apologist of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.
“This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset for Russia," she said. “Completely despicable.”
The critique came while Gabbard was responding to a question about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops back from northeastern Syria.
That call paved the way for a Turkish assault on the Kurds, who have fought alongside U.S. soldiers and were vital to defeating the Islamic State group in Syria.
Gabbard said the president has the “blood of the Kurds on his hands," but added other Democrats and members of the “mainstream media” are also to blame for unrest in Syria.
“The slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we’ve been waging in Syria,” Gabbard said.
“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 this regime change war.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized Gabbard’s response to the Syria question, saying she was “dead wrong.”
Others also supported a small contingent of US soldiers in Syria to help stabilize it, and said that it was vital that America’s allies ― including the Kurds ― know they can trust the nation.
Gabbard has ramped up her attacks on the media in recent days, saying large national media outlets simply aren’t giving her a fair shake.
Last week, she floated the idea of not participating in the debate at all, calling the process “rigged.”
The Hawaii representative has also sharply criticized a New York Times article that appeared over the weekend under the headline, “What, exactly, is Tulsi Gabbard up to?”
The article raised concerns about her support from white nationalists and “alt-right internet stars,” along with “supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media.”
Gabbard was among 12 Democratic contenders who qualified for the Ohio debate.
This story will be updated.