According to San Francisco police and prosecutors, David DePape has confessed to breaking into the home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi early Friday morning with the intent of taking her hostage, interrogating her and breaking her kneecaps with a hammer if she lied to him.
After smashing through a glass door, the intruder asked, “Where’s Nancy?” The speaker was 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., but Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband, Paul, was there. Roused out of bed, he managed to call 911 and police officers arrived in time to witness DePape attack and severely injure Paul Pelosi with a hammer.
Subsequent investigations indicated that DePape was steeped in erroneous right-wing propaganda about the 2020 presidential election being stolen by Democrats, as well as QAnon conspiracy fantasies alleging that Democratic leaders are part of a clandestine ring of pedophiles who drink the blood of children.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said the attack was politically motivated and she pleaded for a de-escalation of the hyper-charged political rhetoric that appears to have inspired the invasion of the Pelosis’ home.
Rather than toning things down, though, rhetoric on the right has been dialed up another notch. Refusing to accept the straightforward facts of the attack, ultraconservative social media outlets concocted a sick scenario about a homosexual tryst between Paul Pelosi and the man who bashed his head with a hammer. (To his great shame, the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, retweeted the lie.) Many others in the right-wing world, including Donald Trump Jr., gave the perverse version of events currency by making it a big joke. While some Republican leaders condemned the assault, others seized the chance to turn the Pelosi tragedy into a campaign attack on Democrats’ supposed weakness on crime. Fox News raised bogus questions and ignored the dire effect of violent right-wing rhetoric and conspiracy mongering.
And, predictably, after initially expressing sympathy for Pelosi, Donald Trump, the elder, emulated his son and went on a conservative talk radio show in Philadelphia to spew falsehoods about the attempted murder of Paul Pelosi.
There is no serious question about what happened in the Pelosi home, but right-wing commentators, politicians and social media trolls are willfully choosing not to believe the hard evidence gathered by the police and the FBI and, instead, are playing their standard opportunistic game of selling lies to their millions of gullible followers.
Far from being the champions of American conservative values they claim to be, this incident reveals, once again, that this cabal of right-wing opinion shapers lacks any sense of decency or any feeling of shame about the terrible consequences of their high-volume mendacity.
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