A video of Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida citing a Chinese “propaganda” article in Congress has gone viral.
During a House Armed Services Committee oversight hearing on the U.S. sending military aid to Ukraine on Tuesday, Gaetz was confronted by Department of Defense official Colin Kahl after referencing a report from Chinese state-run outlet Global Times, which is widely believed to be a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.
Video clips of the moment were widely shared across social media and quickly gained a significant number of views. A clip shared to Twitter by journalist Aaron Rupar had more than 1 million views alone at the time of publication.
The video shows Gaetz asking Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, whether the Azov Battalion—a far-right volunteer militia that is part of Ukraine’s National Guard—was “getting access to U.S. weapons.”
Congressman Matt Gaetz, left, is pictured in Washington, D.C., on January 10, 2023, while Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, is shown next to a Chinese Communist Party flag in Beijing on October 23, 2022. Gaetz cited an article from the Chinese state-run propaganda outlet Global Times during a House hearing on Tuesday. Drew Angerer; Kevin Frayer
Kahl said that he was not “aware” of the battalion receiving U.S.-supplied weapons, prompting Gaetz to cite what he said was a Global Times “investigative report” that showed the group was receiving weapons “as far back as 2018.”
“Any reason to disagree with that assessment, Dr. Kahl?” Gaetz asked Kahl, who has a doctorate in political science from Columbia University.
“I”m sorry, is this the Global Times from China?” Kahl responded.
Gaetz at first said “no” in response to Kahl’s question before appearing to review the report, then said, “yeah it might be … would that be a reason to object?”
“Uh, as a general matter, I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value,” said Kahl.
“But just tell me if the allegation is true or false,” said Gaetz.
“I don’t have any evidence one way or another,” Kahl said, before repeating, “as a general matter, I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value.”
An apparently flustered Gaetz then responded, “Fair enough, I would agree with that assessment,” and moved on from the topic.
“As a general matter I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value” — Absolutely amazing: Matt Gaetz tried to use literal Chinese propaganda during a congressional hearing, and got called on it by a witness pic.twitter.com/2OS9Q9z9Ad
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2023
A spokesman for Gaetz said in a statement obtained by Newsweek that the congressman “wanted to ask if the report was true” and since Kahl “said it wasn’t true,” he concluded “that was a good enough answer for him.” The spokesman declined to comment on the video going viral.
Critics of Gaetz mocked the congressman for citing the Chinese state media article as video of the incident continued to circulate online.
“Congrats to Matt Gaetz on unwittingly entering CCP propaganda into the Congressional record,” tweeted writer Alex Thomas.
“GOP Rep Matt Gaetz, who has access to actual US Intel, didn’t bother to read the source of the material he was quoting before entering a Chinese propaganda piece off the Internet into the Congressional record,” Catholic priest Robert Ballecer tweeted. “THIS is the guy [email protected] couldn’t outwit? [“rolling on the floor laughing” emoji].”
GOP Rep Matt Gaetz, who has access to actual US Intel, didn’t bother to read the source of the material he was quoting before entering a Chinese propaganda piece off the Internet into the Congressional record.
THIS is the guy who @SpeakerMcCarthy couldn’t outwit? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/f38TZ9uq9J
— Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ (@padresj) February 28, 2023
“I have never met @RepMattGaetz but I know @ColinKahl well,” tweeted Jon Wolfsthal, a national security consultant and former Obama administration official. “Trust me – Gaetz is WAYYYYYYY out of his league here.”
“Y’all are looking at Dr. Kahl after he called out Matt Gaetz for spreading propaganda,” activist Olivia Julianna, who has sparred with Gaetz online multiple times in the past, tweeted while sharing a photo of a young man laughing in the background of the hearing. “I’m looking at the young staffer in the back who is representing the youths in this moment so well [crying face emoji].”
Y’all are looking at Dr.Kahl after he called out Matt Gaetz for spreading propaganda. I’m looking at the young staffer in the back who is representing the youths in this moment so well pic.twitter.com/cZOqB0XP07
— Olivia Julianna (@0liviajulianna) February 28, 2023
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, suggested that Gaetz had intentionally ignored an assessment from his group in favor of Chinese propaganda.
“In 2018, @DFRLab looked at a leak story about US allegedly supplying weapons to the Azov Battalion,” Brookie tweeted. “We found it to be unverified. A Chinese propaganda outlet then mischaracterized our assessment. Rep. Gaetz cited the Chinese propaganda outlet’s assessment, not ours.”
In 2018, @DFRLab looked at a leak story about US allegedly supplying weapons to the Azov Battalion. We found it to be unverified.
A Chinese propaganda outlet then mischaracterized our assessment. Rep. Gaetz cited the Chinese propaganda outlet’s assessment, not ours.
— Graham Brookie (@GrahamBrookie) February 28, 2023