The NBC report, published Saturday, claims that analysis shows “the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in its 2016 election meddling shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii … has become a favorite of the sites Moscow used when it interfered in 2016.”
The report added, “Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on Jan. 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government.” The pro-Russia outlets listed include RT, Sputnik News, and Russia Insider.
The report further claimed that experts who track Kremlin-linked websites and social media accounts found evidence of “what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard.”
Glenn Greenwald, one of the founding editors of The Intercept who is perhaps best known for his reporting on the Edward Snowden leaks, slammed NBC in an article that questioned the credibility of one of the sources cited in the report – the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge.
Greenwald cited a New York Times report that alleged New Knowledge was involved in an effort to mimic the tactics of Russian trolls in order to aid then-Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones against Republican Roy Moore in Alabama. On this basis, Greenwald contended NBC’s “whole story” on Gabbard “was a sham.”
Ben Popken, one of the reporters behind the NBC story, responded to Greenwald’s article in a series of tweets. Popken said there’s “a lot wild conflation and hyperbole over New Knowledge,” and he didn’t feel it amounted enough to reject the firm as a source.
Greenwald in his story accused NBC of attempting to “smear Gabbard as a Kremlin favorite,” claiming it’s a move right out of the “playbook” of those seeking to undermine adversaries of “the establishment wing of the Democratic Party.” He pegged NBC as among the entities working to uphold the status-quo and prop up the establishment.
Gabbard has a history of taking controversial foreign-policy stances, and was widely criticized in 2017 after she visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She compounded the backlash by expressing skepticism about reports of Assad using chemical weapons against civilians.
In response to NBC’s story, Gabbard seemed to latch onto Greenwald’s suggestion that there’s an active effort to paint the Hawaii congresswoman as a “Kremlin stooge” to derail her campaign for president.
Gabbard on Sunday tweeted, “@ggreenwald exposes that @NBC used journalistic fraud to discredit our campaign. But more important is their motive: ‘to smear any adversary of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party – whether on the left or the right – as a stooge or asset of the Kremlin.'”
In a separate but related tweet, Gabbard added, “As commander-in-chief, I will work to end the new cold war, nuclear arms race and slide into nuclear war. That is why the neocon/neolib warmongers will do anything to stop me.”
Popken in a tweet said the implication Gabbard’s foreign policy is what inspired NBC’s reporting is a “bogus conspiracy theory.”
Gabbard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.