The point of our recent Tulsi Gabbard piece on surfing with Yahoo News instead of attending a U.S. Senate hearing on problems at the VA is one that Gabbard’s supporters are conveniently sidestepping:
She was scheduled to go to the hearing. She didn’t show up. Sen. Mazie Hirono’s staff told reporters they had expected her, wanted her to be there, and had no idea where she was.
We called her office to check. It took four days to even get a response. First we were told she’d been at another meeting. Then an official statement from her press secretary said “an earlier commitment ran very late.”
At no time did anyone tell the truth: She was doing an interview with a national news crew that involved surfing at Waikiki and it just ran long. That came only after Civil Beat pointed out to her office that the video and social media showed the Yahoo footage was shot at the same time the hearing was going on.
Why is that?
Tulsi Gabbard surfing off Waikiki for a Yahoo News video interview.
My guess would be she and her people thought that might look bad. But she could easily have said then what she is saying now, that a national news story is a pretty good way to get your message across when it comes to support for veterans. It’s understandable, too, that she didn’t want to disrupt Hirono’s hearing by rushing in when it was almost over.
Gabbard’s Internet commenters, including VoteVets co-founder Jon Soltz in his Huffington Post blog this morning, instead are spreading a false narrative: that Civil Beat was criticizing her for a lack of support for veterans. Soltz says the Civil Beat article “smeared” her for “being aloof to veterans.”
Far from it. Both stories we’ve written about this have laid out in detail her almost unmatched support for veterans both in Congress and in Hawaii. Other national media picked it up, too, and also pointed out that the real issue is obfuscation.
Gabbard’s championing of veterans and their issues has never been in question.
But a congresswoman who can’t answer a simple question truthfully is something people should think about.
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.