Social media celebrities, including some of the most vocal voices on the political right, are pushing lewd and false conspiracy theories about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, apparently seeking to change the narrative about the attack.
Allegations that big names like Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Jr. and Dinesh D’Souza are being promoted to millions of followers: Paul Pelosi and the man who attacked him are gay lovers who got into a fight was.
The false theory dates back to erroneous early news reports and some evidence that its proponents spun it wildly out of context. This goes against the explanations outlined by police and federal law enforcement, in which the suspect in the attack, David DePap, broke into Pelosi’s home and attacked him.
“There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told CNN in an interview. “In fact, the evidence points to the exact opposite.”
But the explosion of social media posts discussing this theory is a testament to how quickly conspiracy theories can spread, and how eager some political figures are to use falsehoods to push the agenda. It shows how we are pushing forward.
A conspiracy involving Nancy Pelosi, a longtime conservative lightning rod and star in Republican attack ads, has been a particularly attractive target for right-wing conspiracy theorists, according to American University professor Cynthia Miller-Idris. It is said that Polarization and extremism.
“We have people who cannot tell what is true and what is not. The spread of misinformation from reliable sources undermines that,” said Miller Idris. I was. “People are more than happy to embrace conspiracy theories when they reinforce stories that are already in their heads.”
According to police and FBI affidavits included in the federal criminal complaint, DePappe broke into the glass door of Pelosi’s San Francisco home early Friday morning and went to his bedroom to confront Pelosi, claiming he wanted to talk to his wife. Pelosi managed to call 911, and police officers who arrived on the scene saw Depapu hit him with a hammer.
Proponents of the “homosexual” theory point to some evidence that purports to be based on false or distorted narratives. They say Depap was in his underwear when police arrived on the scene, but the local TV station, which first reported it, has since corrected the story and removed the claim. , suggesting that a third party opened the door to Pelosi’s home, but police uncovered it.
Many theorists stick to the 911 dispatcher’s recording, in which Pelosi called Depapu a “friend” and said he “sounded somewhat confused.”
But Pelosi appeared to speak in encrypted language on the 911 call to make it clear that she needed help, a law enforcement source previously told CNN. And the complaint states that Pelosi told police she had never seen Depapu.
The complaint also includes an interview with DePappe conducted by police, in which DePappe admitted to breaking into the home, saying it surprised Pelosi. According to the complaint, DePape wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage because he saw her as “a ‘herd leader’ that the Democrats would lie to,” and that she was “fighting a tyranny with no option of surrender.” ” he claimed. ”
San Francisco chief Scott called the intrigue surrounding the attack “pathetic” and “disturbing.”
“We’ve spent a lot of energy pushing back on really ridiculous conspiracy theories to keep people focused on our team.” Harmful to the victims involved. It’s really sad that we’re in this place, but we are.”
Despite the lack of evidence, the “gay lover” theory took root in right-wing social media circles less than 24 hours after the attack.
According to CNN’s analysis, there have been at least 19,000 tweets mentioning the words “Pelosi” and “gay” since the date of the attack, garnering more than 700,000 total likes. Those words, or tweets that have since been deleted.
One of the first widely shared tweets to support this theory appeared to have been posted at 11:36 am on Friday, the day of the attack, and garnered over 2,700 retweets.
That night, Raheem Kassam, a former Breitbart writer and co-host of Steve Bannon’s podcast, tweeted, “Pretending they weren’t Paul Pelosi’s gay yet,” tweeting 1,000. Received more retweets.
Other conservative figures such as Donald Trump Jr., Sebastian Gorka and Dinesh D’Souza followed suit over the next few days either by explicitly endorsing or endorsing and referencing this theory. Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, tweeted a photo of Nancy Pelosi and called DePape a “male prostitute” before deleting the tweet.
Masks helped spread conspiracy theories to a wider audience. On Sunday morning, the billionaire, who had just completed his purchase of the social media network, responded to a tweet from Hillary Clinton about the Pelosi attack, writing, “There’s a small chance there’s more to this story than meets the eye. He linked to an article on the Santa Monica Observer, an obscure website, claiming that DePappe was a male prostitute and that Pelosi had been in a drunken altercation with him. The website had previously posted false news, including claims that Clinton had died during the 2016 election and was replaced by a body double for the debate.
Musk deleted the tweet around 2pm that day, but by then it had already garnered over 28,000 retweets and over 100,000 likes.
The conservative person was happy to applaud Musk for sharing the post. “.@ElonMusk just posted a link that says Paul Pelosi may have been drunk and with a gay prostitute,” tweeted Lavern Spicer, the former Republican congressional candidate. “I’ve never respected him more than I do now.” Her message has been retweeted more than her 11,000 times.
The perpetrator’s alleged stepfather, Jean DePape, said it was disappointing to see his son-in-law become a conspiracy theory character and used as a political topic. said he spent hours scrolling through his Facebook news feed.
“It’s pretty sick,” he said.
David DePape’s own social media and blog posts show that he himself was steeped in conspiracy theories in the months and years before the attack. From his musings on QAnon to his anti-Semitic rants to his claims of an imminent takeover by the global elite.
Depap’s Facebook post last year endorsed a string of right-wing lies. He posted multiple videos made by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen, linked to websites claiming the Covid vaccine was deadly, Shared a video questioning the Jan. 6, 2021 attack. CNN confirmed the post before the social media company removed the page, and several of DePape’s relatives believed the page belonged to him. Confirmed.
Other blogs believed to be written by DePape also posted anti-Semitic screeds and endorsed QAnon conspiracy theories.
Support for the “gay” theory by some conservatives muddled the narrative that led to bipartisan denunciations and sympathy for Pelosi, and how other right-wing conspiracies may have sparked the violence. I was distracted from the discussion about sexuality.
Miller-Idris, a professor at American University, said celebrities inadvertently spreading hoaxes could have a greater impact on society.
“It’s dangerous because it weakens people’s sense of truth and encourages further detachment from reality,” she said. “It’s a situation where they spread it further – and they pass it on.”