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Looking back: Tulsi Gabbard’s Fox News presence in the Obama years

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference at the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York on Oct. 29, 2019. (AP/Altaffer) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference at the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York on Oct. 29, 2019. (AP/Altaffer)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference at the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York on Oct. 29, 2019. (AP/Altaffer)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy November 22, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., ripped Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during the Democratic debate in Atlanta, tearing into the Hawaii congresswoman for her comments on Democrats and accusing her of bashing President Barack Obama on Fox News.

The attack came after Gabbard said the Democratic Party "is not the party that is of, by and for the people." In response, Harris accused Gabbard of being harsh toward Democrats while cozying up to President Donald Trump and his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

"I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States who during the Obama administration spent four years, full time, on Fox News criticizing President Obama," Harris said.

We decided to dig into the archives and examine Gabbard’s record as a guest on Fox News, a network considered friendly to Trump and his Republican allies. 

Saying Gabbard was on Fox "full time" seems like an exaggeration, but Gabbard did make frequent appearances on the network during Obama’s second term. And she often bashed the former president’s foreign policy in the process.

As for Harris, she appeared just once on "Hannity" in 2009 to talk about health care while she was San Francisco’s district attorney, we found.

A frequent Fox News guest

Gabbard’s arrival in Congress overlapped with the start of Obama’s second term. From 2013 to 2017, she became a regular guest on Fox News. It’s important to note that Gabbard was appearing as a sitting member of Congress, not as a pundit

Searching the Nexis database, we counted more than 20 appearances Gabbard made on Fox News while Obama was in office. That does not include times when she was mentioned on Fox News or featured in video clips the network’s hosts played on air.

She was interviewed by a number of current and former Fox News hosts, from anchor Greta Van Susteren to talk show host Tucker Carlson.

Gabbard criticized Obama’s foreign policy

Gabbard’s anti-war foreign policy views have long put her at odds with members of both parties who believe the United States should have an active hand in resolving international issues.

As she campaigns for the White House, Gabbard has promised to fight for peace and stay out of what she calls "regime-change wars" overseas.

RELATED STORY: Why Tulsi Gabbard calls the war in Syria a ‘regime change war’

Not surprisingly, her early appearances on Fox News were often critical of the Obama administration’s actions to combat terrorism and manage other issues in the Middle East. 

In a September 2013 interview with Van Susteren, Gabbard said she was against military strikes as Obama was weighing whether to authorize them against the Syrian government. 

In June 2014 and August 2014 interviews on the same show, she shared concerns about Obama’s decisions to send military advisers to Iraq and target the Islamic State with airstrikes.

Gabbard ramped up her appearances in 2015, going on Fox News several times to blast Obama over his refusal to refer to the Islamic State’s beliefs and terrorism as "Islamic extremism" or "radical Islam."

"Unless you clearly identify your enemy, then you cannot come up with a very effective strategy to defeat that enemy," she told host Neil Cavuto on Jan. 21, 2015.

"This is not just about words. It's not about semantics," she told Van Susteren days later. "It's really about having a real, true understanding of who our enemy is and how important that is."

She later criticized the administration’s strategy to defeat ISIS, telling Van Susteren that "the White House needs to change its policy" and give more support to U.S. allies in the Middle East. 

And she repeatedly appeared on Fox News to argue that the United States should not work to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at one point warning that removing Assad would leave Syria as a repeat of "the failed Libyan state" she said Obama’s foreign policy helped produce.

Gabbard touched on other topics in foreign policy, as well. She weighed in on Israel and the then-ongoing negotiations with Iran over the country’s efforts to build nuclear weapons, which she said should result in a deal that allowed Iranian sites to be inspected without warning.

She also stepped outside of the foreign policy arena, at one point condemning the Democratic National Committee for allegedly disinviting her from a primary debate in October 2015, while she was the committee’s vice chair, and offering the then-candidates debate advice.

But even then, her advice to candidates sounded like a swipe against Obama when she said they should answer questions on Syria by speaking out against Turkey’s "targeting" of the United States’ Kurdish allies in the region.

"The fact that the administration has stood silently by and allowed this to happen, including NATO, I think it's important for those candidates on the stage tonight to address this situation and to address how they will approach this and taking action," she said.

Gabbard has returned to Fox News more than a few times this go-around, joining Carlson and fellow talk show host Sean Hannity to discuss her foreign policy views, the criteria for qualifying for this year’s Democratic debates and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Gabbard is a "Russian asset."

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Looking back: Tulsi Gabbard’s Fox News presence in the Obama years