Footage of Paul Pelosi Attack Should Dispel Conspiracy Theories — But It Won’t


The police body cam footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi last October was released on Friday afternoon. It depicts what authorities had described.

The intruder, David DePape, allowed Pelosi — who is in in underwear and a long-sleeve shirt — to open the door for San Francisco police and then grabbed Pelosi’s arm to restrain him. In his other hand DePape held a hammer, which he used to brutally attack Pelosi after police instructed him to set it down and the 82-year-old husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began to struggle. Additional footage showed DePape breaking into the Pelosi home earlier that night, and additional audio revealed how Pelosi delivered a coded distress message to 911 dispatchers.

All this should put to rest the conspiracy theories championed in some of the disreputable corners of the right that DePape, a homeless man 40 years Pelosi’s junior, who broke into the home and awoke Pelosi from his bed, was there for a consensual sexual liaison. On Tucker Carlson‘s Fox News show, for example, guest Jason Whitlock professed to be “outraged for Nancy Pelosi.”

“This woman has taken the hard-earned money she’s made from insider trading and invested in a pair of cans at 82 years old and comes home to find out that her husband’s playing hide the hammer with a Black Lives Matter guy,” continued Whitlock in a crude reference to Pelosi’s breasts. In another instance, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a picture of a hammer and pair of underwear with the caption “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.”

Elon Musk wondered aloud if there was “a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” while linking to a conspiratorial site alleging that DePape was a male prostitute.

But just because this new evidence should mark the end of the madness doesn’t mean it will. Within minutes of the release of the tapes, the outrage-mongers went to work constructing fresh conspiracy theories around the footage, asking questions about and sometimes outright stating that it constituted evidence that Pelosi, whose body is shown crumpled and limp on the ground, was up to no good.

Comfortably Smug, an online personality and co-host of the Ruthless podcast, immediately asked “Why was Paul Pelosi not wearing pants?” before posting a screenshot of the footage with the caption “Just normal stuff, bro.”

It’s unclear who, exactly, had submitted that anything about the incident was “normal,” but the most normal thing about it was probably that Pelosi was sleeping in his underwear and therefore in them when police arrived on scene.

Rogan O’Handley, a self-described “political influencer on social media with over 4 million followers and hundreds of millions of video views” said he had “more questions than answers” after watching the video.

“Why didn’t Paul say ‘please help’ or something more urgent? Why did he say ‘how are ya?’ to the cops?” he asked before asserting without any further explanation that “It seems like he [Pelosi] wanted the cops to go away at first.”

If it’s answers O’Handley actually wants and is genuinely incapable of producing himself, I’ll be the one among the millions who intuitively understand this to explain that Pelosi was likely trying to stay calm so as to to provoke the obviously unstable DePape from attacking him.

“Anything look weird to you??” asked former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka.

“Neither Pelosi nor the attacker David DePape seemed nervous,” suggested David Hookstead of OutKick in direct contravention of the video evidence. “Eventually,” (seconds after Pelosi opened the door) “DePape starts attacking Paul Pelosi,” admitted Hookstead.

On Fox News, defense attorney Brian Claypool argued that the video raised a number of questions, including: “How if somebody is fearing for their life, they’re able to walk to open the front door?” and “Did Paul Pelosi know this guy?” Claypool contended that the 911 call between Pelosi and a dispatcher indicated that he was only “passively in fear” of DePape.

To be clear, there is no evidence to indicate that Pelosi and DePape knew each other personally, much less had an ongoing sexual relationship. Just as there is no evidence to indicate that anything sexual had occurred prior to authorities’ arrival at the home.

There is, however, evidence that DePape broke into the home. Just as there is evidence that Pelosi’s supposedly strange behavior was not a consequence of a belief that he was not in danger, but of his knowledge that he was. After all, he called 911 and spoke with the dispatcher in code in an effort to keep DePape calm and it’s possible that Pelosi’s relatively relaxed demeanor may have been the manifestation of a premature sense of relief that fell over him upon seeing that backup had arrived.

The rash of conspiracy theories floated in the aftermath of the attack was never anything more than a consequence of irresponsible voices in the media seeking to capitalize on the inclination of the politically-addicted to assume the worst of their opponents. And so a moment that called for empathy was treated as one that called for suspicion and contempt. Pelosi could not possibly have been a victim, he must have been complicit somehow.

But the true depth of the soul-deadening con is laid bare by those who even after watching this disturbing footage of an elderly man being clubbed by a much larger attacker, saw only an opportunity to sow still more seeds of hatred and scorn toward the victim.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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