CNN, MSNBC avoid Clinton's wild Gabbard conspiracy theory during primetime

Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows Friday when she shared a conspiracy theory without evidence that the Russians were "grooming" Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, into running as a third-party presidential candidate in 2020.

But Clinton's remarks apparently weren't significant enough for CNN and MSNBC to feature during primetime hours, known for maximized viewership.

There was no mention of Clinton's controversial statements during CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," "Cuomo Prime Time," and the entire first hour of "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon."  There was an even lengthier blackout of the controversy on MSNBC as "The Beat with Ari Melber," "All In with Chris Hayes," "The Rachel Maddow Show," "Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," and "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" made no mention of the clash between the 2016 and the 2020 presidential candidates.


However, within the last 15 minutes of his second hour, Lemon suggested that Clinton was "playing 3-D chess" by challenging Gabbard not to run as a third-party candidate despite the fact the congresswoman had already said she wouldn't.

CNN did address the controversy on four separate programs throughout the day while MSNBC covered it only on "Meet The Press: Daily."

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel covered the Democratic feud throughout the day and during primetime, including on "Your World with Neil Cavuto," "The Five," "Special Report w/ Bret Baier," "The Story with Martha MacCallum," "Tucker Carlson Tonight," "Hannity," "The Ingraham Angle," and "Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream."

Clinton targeted Gabbard during a podcast interview, suggesting she was "the favorite of the Russians."

“I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, in an apparent reference to Gabbard. “She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

She then accused former Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein, who ran against her and Donald Trump in 2016, of also being an asset of Russia: "That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. I mean -- totally."

Both offered fiery responses on social media.

"Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain," Gabbard wrote in a scathing three-part tweet on Friday afternoon. "From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation."


She continued, "We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly."

Stein also offered a challenge to Clinton, but to a debate since she was "denied by the phony DNC/RNC-controlled Commission on Presidential Debates" during the 2016 election.

Fox News' Alex Pappas and Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.