Tulsi Gabbard Threatens to Boycott Next Debate, Saying It's 'Commercialized Reality Television'

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard threatened on Thursday to boycott the October 15 Democratic primary debate, claiming that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was working with the corporate media to rig the election and turning the debates into "commercialized reality television."

In a video posted to social media, Gabbard said that many Iowa and New Hampshire voters had expressed to her their frustration that "the DNC and the corporate media are essentially trying to usurp" the voters' role in choosing the 2020 Democratic nominee. "I share your concerns," she said.

"The 2016 Democratic primary election was rigged by the DNC and their partners in the corporate media against Bernie Sanders," said the Hawaii congresswoman. "In this 2020 election, the DNC and the corporate media are rigging the election again, but this time it's against the American people in the early voting states," she added, naming Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

"They're attempting to replace the roles of voters in the early states, using polling and other arbitrary methods, which are not transparent or Democratic," she continued. Gabbard then slammed the "so-called" debates, arguing that they "really are not debates at all." She said they are actually "commercialized reality television meant to entertain rather than to inform or enlighten."

Concluding her remarks, Gabbard insisted that the DNC and the corporate media are "trying to hijack the entire election process." The congresswoman said she was "seriously considering" boycotting the next Democratic debate and would announce her decision "within the next few days."

The DNC did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment on Gabbard's allegations and her threat to boycott the debate.

Gabbard is one of 12 Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for the October debate. She also qualified for the first two debates, in June and July, but failed to qualify for the third debate in September. After failing to meet the DNC qualifications for the previous debate, Gabbard slammed the leaders of her party for lacking transparency in their requirements for candidates. She questioned why some polls were accepted by the DNC as qualifiers while others were not, pointing out that numerous unaccepted polls showed her having enough voter support to participate.

However, critics pushed back against Gabbard's criticism, noting that the DNC has been clear in its guidelines for how many donors candidates are required to have, as well as how high they need to poll and which polls are acceptable.

Author and activist Marianne Williamson, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, has also criticized the DNC and voiced her support for Gabbard.

Tulsi Gabbard
Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on "Fox & Friends" on September 24. Slaven Vlasic/Getty

"I have great respect for Tulsi for saying such inconvenient truth. She is absolutely correct," Williamson tweeted on Thursday, sharing Gabbard's video message. Williamson did not qualify for the October 15 debate.

In an interview with Fox News last month, Williamson said, "I would say that I feel that I've learned that the system is even more corrupt than I knew."

As Gabbard pointed out, in 2016 the DNC was widely seen as acting unethically by supporting Hillary Clinton's primary campaign, even though Senator Bernie Sanders was drawing significant support from voters. However, it's a matter of debate as to whether the primary election process was "rigged" against Sanders. The DNC has made some significant reforms in an attempt to make the process more transparent.

Tulsi Gabbard Threatens to Boycott Next Debate, Saying It's 'Commercialized Reality Television' | U.S.