What do Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire real estate heir Donald J. Trump have in common?
According to MSNBC, Gabbard is part of the Russian scheme that “Moscow used when it interfered in the 2016” election.
The establishment loathes any candidate who seeks an end to U.S. military adventurism abroad—so much so that they are willing to make the logically incoherent claim that Russian bots elected Trump. Now they’re apparently also attempting to elect his 2020 Democratic rival.
The mind-bending MSNBC article resurfaced on social media after Gabbard became the most Googled candidate thanks to several viral moments during the debates.
NBC News rests its claim that “Russia’s propaganda machine” has “discovered” Tulsi Gabbard on the fact that “there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government: RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and Russia Insider, a blog that experts say closely follows the Kremlin line. …The coverage devoted to Gabbard, both in news and commentary, exceeds that afforded to any of the declared or rumored Democratic candidates despite Gabbard’s lack of voter recognition.”
Because Russian media reports on Gabbard, that means they’re seeking to elect her. How sneaky.
A more obvious explanation for the increased coverage is that as a member of Congress, Gabbard has made many statements regarding the war in Syria and America’s and Russia’s involvement, and because as a presidential candidate, she’s made foreign policy the centerpiece of her campaign.
Or it could be because—Russian bots.
MSNBC says that “negative coverage and fabricated stories about Hillary Clinton” in 2016 were “amplified by a huge network of fake social media accounts and bots” and that “experts who track inauthentic social media accounts…have already found some extolling Gabbard’s positions since she declared.”
It continues: “Within a few days of Gabbard announcing her presidential bid, DisInfo 2018, part of the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, found that three of the top 15 URLs shared by the 800 social media accounts affiliated with known and suspected Russian propaganda operations directed at U.S. citizens were about Gabbard.”
New Knowledge is the company the Senate Intelligence Committee used to track Russian activities in the 2016 election. Apparently they’ve told NBC News that they spotted “chatter” about Gabbard “in anonymous online message boards, including those known for fomenting right-wing troll campaigns. The chatter discussed Gabbard’s usefulness.”
Further, “Josh Russell, a researcher and ‘troll hunter’ known for identifying fake accounts, similarly told NBC News he recently spotted a few clusters of suspicious accounts that retweeted the same exact text about Gabbard, mostly neutral or slightly positive headlines.”
“A few clusters” of “mostly neutral or slightly positive headlines.” Scary stuff.
I’m old enough to remember when Democrats mocked the very idea of Russians being a threat.
Remember Obama’s famous comeback: “Governor Romney, I’m glad you recognize that al-Qaeda is a threat, because a couple of months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
Romney is a “Cold War holdover” with an “apparent determination to take U.S.-Russian relations back to the 1950s,” chided Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate, at an April campaign event.
Romney “acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on, Russia is still our major adversary. I don’t know where he has been,” Biden said in an interview with Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation. “We have disagreements with Russia, but they’re united with us. …This is not 1956. He just seems to be uninformed or stuck in a Cold War mentality.”
This all feels so long ago. Ever since the Democrats lost the 2016 election to Trump, there’s been endless fear mongering about how Russians are hiding behind every candidate. Now, if a Democratic candidate dares to defy the establishment line on foreign interventionism, she must be aided by the Russians.
Because that’s the only reason someone might say, “I will not apologize to you, or to anyone…for doing all that I can…to prevent our country from continuing to make these perpetual wrong decisions that have taken a toll on the lives of my brothers and sisters in uniform. I will continue to do all that I can to make sure that we end these wasteful regime change wars.”
Barbara Boland is The American Conservative’s foreign policy and national security reporter. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.