Tag: paul pelosi
Nancy Pelosi and ​Paul Pelosi

Violent Pelosi Attacker Was An Avid Consumer Of Far-Right Media

The man who bludgeoned Paul Pelosi, husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer last October admitted at trial that he consumed right-wing media produced by Tim Pool, Glenn Beck, anti-LGBTQ activist James Lindsay, and others.

On Thursday, David DePape was found guilty of “one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, and a second count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official,” according to CNN. He had pleaded not guilty to both charges, and now could face decades in prison.

DePape took the stand on Tuesday to explain his transformation from liberal to conspiracy theory-minded conservative who embraced beliefs similar to the QAnon movement. According to SFist, “It was Lindsay who convinced him that there are academics out there trying to poisong the nation's children and indoctrinate them into some sex cult.” The QAnon conspiracy theory holds that a cabal of elite liberals are engaged in a global conspiracy to kidnap, traffick, and sexually abuse children.

Lindsay has a long record of promoting anti-LGBTQ bigotry. He has repeatedly violated the terms of service of X (formerly Twitter) by spreading the “groomer” myth, which alleges that gay, trans, and nonbinary adults are a threat to children. In one instance, Proud Boys showed up at a public library hosting a drag event three days after Lindsay posted “ok groomer” in response to the library’s promotional tweet. Last December, he claimed that drag queens were attempting to provoke conservatives to murder them in order to spark a national uprising similar to the summer of 2020. “You guys remember George Floyd?” Lindsay said, “The goal is to have Drag Floyd.”

DePape was also apparently a fan of prominent YouTube streamer Tim Pool, making him at least the second person who has recently committed political violence to have specifically mentioned Pool’s show. In May, a man in Allen, Texas, shot and killed eight people and injured seven in an outlet mall. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, the shooter had posted several screenshots of Pool’s show, Timcast IRL, to X. Pool has a history of platforming racists, antisemites, and other extremists, and apparently found it funny that the Texas shooter liked his show. Like Lindsay, Pool has baselessly accused people of being pedophiles.

Just months before DePape attacked Pelosi, he might also have heard The Blaze’s Glenn Beck fantasize about the good old days when “a kid could go in and buy a handgun” and a “box of bullets” without so much as a note from their parents. What changed, according to Beck, was the emergence of “wokeness,” critical race theory, and “bathrooms that anybody can use.” Beck’s attack on “wokeness” and CRT are clear examples of anti-Black racism, and his panic about bathrooms is explicitly anti-trans.

Although there’s no evidence to suggest DePape watched Fox News, the network has consistently exploited his actions to push conspiracy theories and insinuate that the police or the Pelosis were involved in a cover-up. Just days after DePape attacked Paul Pelosi, Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth declared that it didn’t “add up” and that “something doesn’t make sense” about the event. Fox News host Jesse Watters went further, spreading the baseless claim that there was a third person involved in the attack. “If we’ve learned anything about the Pelosis, you just got to keep asking questions.”

Former Fox News star Tucker Carlson added more fuel to the fire, repeating the theory about a third person being involved and suggesting that DePape and Pelosi were friends, or potentially secret lovers — a false claim embraced by many in right-wing media. After referencing a retracted claim that DePape had been found “in his underwear,” Carlson said, “You can't blame people watching all of this at home for thinking that maybe there's something weird going on here.”

The following morning, Fox’s so-called “news side” was spreading misinformation as well. “There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the case, like who opened the door for police, and why did Paul Pelosi allegedly describe DePape at one point in a conversation with authorities as ‘a friend’?” Fox correspondent Kevin Corke asked during a segment on Fox & Friends.

Even after authorities released body cam footage, Watters continued to push conspiracy theories. “We still don’t know who opened the door. Was it Paul? Was it the cops?” he asked, “Did they not play that part of the footage in the courtroom? Why is this, such a simple detail, so hard to pin down?"

Now, with DePape at trial and the facts beyond dispute, Watters is using the attack to demonize immigrants and fearmonger about social disorder. “Just a reminder: this DePape maniac shouldn't have been in the country,” Watters said. “He was an illegal alien from Canada using San Francisco as a sanctuary, where he descended into a mentally ill, drug-addicted, bizarre alternative lifestyle — living in a bus and fantasizing about fairies.”

DePape has apologized for his attack on Paul Pelosi. Don’t expect the same from the right-wing media stars whose content DePape consumed, and who have opportunistically taken advantage of his violence.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Horrific Pelosi Tape Shows Right-Wing Conspiracy Machine Is Out Of Control

Horrific Pelosi Tape Shows Right-Wing Conspiracy Machine Is Out Of Control

Video released Friday of the harrowing home invasion and assault that nearly killed then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in October brought little in the way of self-reflection or regret from far-right Internet trolls and Fox News stars who spent months baselessly insisting that the attack had actually resulted from a gay tryst gone wrong. Instead, the denizens of the right-wing conspiracy theory ecosystem either claimed that the new evidence proved that they were right all along, or used it to float additional conspiracy theories about why it hadn’t been released earlier.

The key facts were available within hours of the October 28, 2022, attack. Law enforcement swiftly alleged that David DePape broke into the Democratic leader’s home in the middle of the night seeking to harm her and pummeled her 82-year-old husband Paul, sending him to the hospital for emergency surgery. Journalists who reviewed DePape’s Internet history subsequently revealed that he had been radicalized online and espoused a wide array of right-wing conspiracy theories, including QAnon.

This narrative of a right-wing extremist who believed the conspiracy theories one sees on Fox beating up an old man while looking for his wife was very unflattering to Republicans. So the right’s extensive, well-funded media apparatus seized on the sorts of minor inconsistencies and trivialities that often characterize breaking news stories, and developed their alternative narrative: DePape was Paul Pelosi’s leftist gay lover and the assault was a tryst gone bad that Democrats, journalists, and law enforcement were now covering up to protect Nancy Pelosi and help the Democrats in the midterm elections.

Within days, this homophobic absurdity spread through right-wing fever swamps, was amplified by Twitter owner Elon Musk, and went up the food chain to outlets like OAN and Fox. Nothing seemed to give pause to the conspiracy theorists over the following weeks, including the federal complaint which stated that police witnessed DePape “striking Pelosi in the head” with a hammer and that he subsequently told an investigator that he had broken into the home as part of a plan “to hold Nancy hostage,” and reports from within the courtroom that police body camera footage showed the attack.

Friday’s court-ordered release of new evidence — security footage of DePape breaking into the Pelosi home, Paul Pelosi’s 911 call, and police bodycam footage that showed DePape and Pelosi struggling over the hammer and then DePape repeatedly using it to strike him — was perhaps the final potential avenue for the right-wing commentators who had promoted the lie to take the offramp back to sanity. With few exceptions, they did not do so.

Instead, many of the Internet trolls who examined the footage claimed vindication. Several noticed that Paul Pelosi wasn’t wearing pants and was carrying a glass when police arrived. This seems to obviously point to Pelosi being woken by a midnight intruder and subsequently trying to deescalate the situation. But for far-right extremist Laura Loomer, it means the attack was “a Grindr booty call gone wrong,” while John Cardillo, a Trumpist pundit who has reportedly been courted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political operation, commented, “This was no home invasion. This looks more like a domestic quarrel.”

Fox’s coverage of the releases, while occasionally punctuated by anchors debunking their guests’ absurd claims, also featured the new conspiracy theories promoted from the fringes.

Fox star host Tucker Carlson, one of the network’s most prolific proponents of Paul Pelosi conspiracy theories, suggested Friday night that the disclosures were part of “a much larger propaganda campaign.” He acknowledged that the video of the attack was “absolutely awful” before suggesting that it raised new questions.

“It's also weird [he was] standing there with a drink,” Carlson said. “What was that? We can't even speculate as to what that was.”

Carlson went on to say that the new evidence backed up his own narrative about the attack. “That bodycam footage, whatever else it proves — and once again, we're not exactly sure what it proves — it definitely puts a crimp in their preferred story, which was that the Pelosi household was invaded by QAnon activists or something or this was some right-wing militia attack on the speaker of the House's husband,” he said. “That’s not what it shows.”

Carlson and his guest, right-wing journalist Christopher Bedford, went on to allege that there was something nefarious about the government not releasing the videos more quickly. The delay, Bedford said, shows “how much contempt they have for us that they're saying we don't deserve that information, or well, we'll just be misled by it.”

The host wrapped up by asking his guest, “Do you think there are still good government liberals out there who are bothered by the obvious corruption on display around us every single day? Do they even care?”

Others at Fox similarly suggested that the right had been correct to believe conspiracy theories about the case, or that the government was at fault for not moving more quickly to rebut them — an implicit acknowledgement of how paranoid thinking has consumed that political movement.

Fox host Todd Piro said of the bodycam footage on Friday afternoon, “It's going to dispel a lot of those conspiracies that many of us have because California is a Democratic state and we've seen the pattern play out in the past where, I hate to make this political, but Democrats have a tendency to hide and not be transparent when something could potentially make them look in a bad light.”

That night, network contributor Joe Concha complained to host Sean Hannity, “It took nearly three months for that footage to be seen by the public, and by slow-walking this, just as police did following Paul Pelosi's DUI arrest earlier that year — remember he crashed his Porsche into another car in wine country — the questions around this attack only grew louder and the conspiracy theories profoundly stupider.”

And Fox host Pete Hegseth, who initially responded to the attack by saying that something “doesn’t add up,” argued on Sunday night that “the worst thing about this is withholding this information so long. That’s what leads to speculation.”

“Just release the tape,” host Dan Bongino agreed, adding, “It just invites cloak and dagger stuff when you don’t do it.”

This is ridiculous. The problem isn’t the authorities’ response to the massive, well-funded right-wing media machine that makes up garbage for political gain. It’s that that machine is flourishing. If it can turn a story about the brutal assault of the Democratic leader’s spouse by a right-wing conspiracy theorist into a new right-wing conspiracy theory, that apparatus can do it to anyone and with anything.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Theater Of Cruelty: The Indecent Republican Response To Pelosi Attack

Theater Of Cruelty: The Indecent Republican Response To Pelosi Attack

The House speaker's husband was brutally attacked, and most GOP officeholders — even the "good Republicans" we've been assured will usher us out of Trumpism — failed the test.

A handful still had enough of a decency default to find the right words. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted his concern, as did former Vice President Mike Pence. But the former president was silent. Most elected Republicans were as well.

Kevin McCarthy took his time. He didn't tweet for most of the day except to say, through an aide, that he had reached out privately to Nancy Pelosi. That's nice, but that's not what the situation calls for. The crucial thing is to condemn the act publicly and leave no doubt that when it comes to acts of violence and terrorism, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans.

On Saturday evening, Kevin McCarthy finally found it within himself to say the attack was "wrong" but immediately vitiated the sentiment with heavy-handed whataboutism. "We've watched this with Lee Zeldin, we've watched this with Supreme Court justices, this is wrong — violence should not go. You watch what happened to Steve Scalise and others. This has got to stop." McCarthy's list contained only Republican victims.

While Paul Pelosi was in surgery, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin told a campaign crowd that "Speaker Pelosi's husband, they had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There's no room for violence anywhere, but we're gonna send her back to be with him in California. That's what we're going to go do." Very tasteful. The audience naturally cheered, because crowds, especially at political rallies, are not given to sober reflection. That's why leaders must set the right tone.

So even the "normal" Republicans are, if not trolls themselves, troll adjacent.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, another Republican who seemed, if you squinted just the right way, to be normal, appeared on Meet the Press the day after Paul Pelosi was attacked. Sununu looked wise when he declined to run for the Senate and accurately characterized Don Bolduc, the GOP's eventual Senate candidate, as "not serious, a conspiracy type" back in the spring. Today though, Sununu is supporting Bolduc because he wears the correct jersey. So it's not terribly surprising that he lapsed into whataboutism, saying, "This started back in the summer of 2020, right, when you saw cities burning, you saw not a whole lot of accountability there."

This is a version of a Republican talking point. Democrats failed to condemn the violence that followed the murder of George Floyd, they say, so they have unclean hands when it comes to the violence committed by Trump's mob on January 6. While it's true that some Democrats seemed soft on antifa violence in the summer of 2020, there are a few flaws with the argument.

For one thing, leading Democrats, including the party's presidential nominee, did condemn the violence repeatedly. Second, the rioters were not acting as agents of any political party. They were not called into the streets by the president of the United States with the words "stand by" and "will be wild!" They were not carrying flags emblazoned with Biden's name. And third, while the violence that followed Floyd's murder was unconscionable and extremely destructive of property, it was not political except in a very abstract sense. It was not designed to, and could not have, affected the outcome of any election, for example. Nor did it involve threats of violence against political figures. There was tremendous property damage, but no gallows erected for Republican officeholders and no rioters chanting, "Hang Donald Trump."

Democrats have not fetishized guns and violence as the GOP has. They have not elevated to hero status a young man, Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot his way into a protest, killing a man; nor featured gun-brandishing suburbanites at their national convention; nor filled their commercials and even their Christmas cards with images of themselves bedecked with weaponry.

So Sununu's bothsidesism breaks down.

Nor is there anything to compete with the GOP's descent into sheer brutishness. Larry Elder, noting that Paul Pelosi had been arrested for a DUI a few months ago, tweeted: "Poor Paul Pelosi. First, he's busted for DUI and then gets attacked in his home. Hammered twice in six months."

What the hell is wrong with these people?

All of this is a garden party compared with the bilge (thank you, Charlie Sykes) released into the atmosphere by Donald Trump Jr. Repeating a rumor from the fever swamps (which rumor was later retweeted and then taken down by the new chief Twit), he displayed a picture of men's underwear and a hammer, saying "Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready." The vile, baseless claim that Pelosi was in the midst of a homosexual tryst with his attacker thus became the official conservative response to a horrifying attack on a defenseless 82-year-old man.

It's beginning to look like Republicans go along with Trumpism not because they feel they must, but because they've really come to embody it.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

What Law Enforcement Must Do To Shut Down Right-Wing Terror Threats

What Law Enforcement Must Do To Shut Down Right-Wing Terror Threats

If there were anything remotely conservative about people calling themselves “conservative Republicans” they’d be horrified by the near-fatal attack upon Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, and calling for strict law enforcement.

Instead, they’re making stupid jokes and endorsing conspiracy theories to minimize the terrible reality of what happened—seemingly secure in the knowledge that the bully-boys and would-be assassins are pretty much all on their side. Yes, there are crackpots on each end of the political spectrum, but actual assaults come largely from the MAGA right.

Famous big game hunter Donald Trump, Jr. — mighty slayer of captive elephants at a game farm in Zimbabwe — posted a photo of a pair of undershorts and a hammer. “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready” the caption read. Devastating wit, right? No word yet from Trump, Sr., whose views on roughing up political rivals are well-known. He once suggested “Second Amendment people” deal with Hillary Clinton.

Both men have been surrounded by bodyguards all their lives.

Preppy Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin chuckled at his own vow to send Nancy Pelosi home to California to care for her husband. This witticism apparently delivered while the 82-year-old victim was still in surgery for a fractured skull.

Although not technically a Republican, self-proclaimed “free speech fundamentalist” Elon Musk posted and later retracted a tweet suggesting the attack on Paul Pelosi stemmed from a gay lover’s quarrel, a malicious invention evidently inspired by the fact that the victim was asleep in his underwear when the assailant burst into his bedroom at 2 AM.

I guess this tells us where the tycoon means to take Twitter, his latest expensive toy. Straight into the Stygian depths of Internet hell.

Meanwhile, several Michigan men were convicted of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — like Nancy Pelosi a woman with serious political power, something that pushes a certain kind of blowhard over the edge. In Arizona right-wing “activists” carrying assault rifles are showing up at early voting sites, writing down license plate numbers, and following people home to prevent (imaginary) electoral fraud.

Voter intimidation is a federal crime.

Elsewhere, scores of election workers and school board members are resigning nationwide due to death threats — some delivered openly at public meetings. High school librarians are being told that their home addresses and the names of their children are known to their antagonists.

So where is law enforcement? Terroristic threatening is likewise a serious felony. Not that it’s ever enforced until much too late.

My own experience in this realm may be instructive. Some years back, I used to get regular threats of death and dismemberment on my home telephone. Mostly, they came on weekends, around midnight. Always the same guy. Countrified accent, grammatically challenged. My wife, perennially worried about our young sons’ safety, could not be persuaded to let the damn thing ring.

To me, crank calls and online threats pretty much come with the territory. Mostly I’ve ignored them. Man to man, people have always left me alone. But this joker had gone too far: vowing to beat me to death in front of my wife, and then rape and sexually mutilate her.

He seemed to get a big charge out of talking dirty to her.

All this because I wrote newspaper columns broadly supportive of Democratic politicians — Bill and Hillary Clinton in particular. Both Clintons have always had a knack for infuriating guys like him.

I recorded a couple of calls and notified the phone company. They put a trace on my phone, documenting that they originated from a pay phone outside a liquor store on the North Little Rock side of the river — a different jurisdiction.

I took the evidence downtown to the police department.

And then, nothing.

Detectives assured me that the caller was a coward who would never confront me. I was pretty sure that was right, but the man was obviously disturbed. As I say, terroristic threatening is a felony.

The cops basically thanked me for my effort and kept the evidence. If he ever actually did attack me or my wife, they’d have all they needed to put him away. If he showed up and I shot him, I basically had my alibi.

But if all he ever did was talk…

Well, if they arrested every guy who talked trash whenever he got drunk, they’d have no time for anything else. I understood where they were coming from, but it became clear I was wasting my time. Not long afterward we moved to the country, and he couldn’t find us anymore.

My point is that what’s needed in response to the Paul Pelosi incident may be what’s sometimes called “broken windows policing.” Local, state and federal authorities need to bust these clowns making threats against librarians and school board members and make a big show of it.

Because otherwise, we’re headed toward Berlin, 1933.