News media has sought to 'delegitimize' Tulsi Gabbard, says liberal journalist

The news media has taken part in a campaign to "delegitimize" 2020 Democratic hopeful Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding CNN's O'Rourke town hall finishes behind Fox News, MSNBC Progressive Democrat says Trump victory shed light on divide between Silicon Valley, rural US MORE (D-Hawaii), left-leaning journalist Michael Tracey said in an interview that aired Friday on Hill.TV's “Rising.”

"The campaign to otherize and delegitimize Tulsi Gabbard is itself really disturbing," Tracey said to Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on Wednesday.

"She's portrayed as a total crank, a weirdo, somebody who's been coddling dictators. She's been accused of being a member of a cult," he continued.

He compared the move to ones he says the media has made in the past to delegitimize other candidates.

"It really harkens back to how the media tried to otherize [former Republican presidential candidate] Ron Paul, [former Democratic candidate] Dennis Kucinich, other candidates in previous electoral cycles who were seen to be inconvenient or be too challenging of foreign policy consensus in particular," he said. 

Gabbard has faced blowback for an unannounced 2017 visit with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been accused of human rights abuses against his own people in that country's ongoing civil war.

"This is what always happens when candidates forthrightly challenge foreign policy consensus. They are deemed to be out of their minds, and that's a really destructive and insidious dynamic," Tracey added. 

"She never said one kind word about Assad," Tracey said. "She went on one diplomatic mission to Syria in January of 2017 with Dennis Kucinich where she met with Assad and Syrian opposition forces. She brought a Syrian opposition figure to the State of the Union a few weeks ago." 

Gabbard, herself, pushed back on the notion that she was an "apologist" for Assad during an appearance this week on ABC's "The View."

"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," Gabbard said.

Gabbard was an early entrant in the 2020 Democratic field and faces an uphill battle against bigger name candidates like Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding MORE (I-Vt.), who have all officially jumped in the race for the White House.

Julia Manchester

This article was updated Feb. 23, 11:25 a.m.