Elon Musk has shared a lurid, baseless conspiracy theory on Twitter about what happened the night of the violent hammer attack on Paul Pelosi — just days after he took over the social media platform promising to take away content moderation.
On Saturday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacked members of the GOP for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories” after it was revealed that Mr. Pelosi’s alleged attacker spewed far-right conspiracies online in the run-up to Friday’s attack.
“The Republican Party and its mouthpiece now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result,” she tweeted.
“As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.”
Mr. Musk, who completed his takeover of the social media platform on Thursday, responded to Mrs. Clinton on Sunday by relaying a conspiracy theory to his 112 million followers that the attack that left the 82-year-old hospitalized with serious injuries was not. what it seemed.
“There’s a slim chance there’s more to this story than meets the eye,” he wrote.
The Twitter and Tesla boss gave no explanation for his comments, but simply shared a link to an article claiming – without any evidence – that Mr Pelosi was drunk and met his alleged attacker at a gay bar.
It is one of several far-right conspiracies that began circulating online almost immediately after the attack on the House Speaker’s husband — while the 82-year-old was in hospital for surgery on a skull fracture.
Just after 2 a.m. local time on Friday morning, officers were called to Pelosi’s San Francisco home after a man broke in looking for Democratic lawmakers.
David DePape, a 42-year-old hemp jeweler, reportedly shouted, “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?” looking for the house speaker.
Ms. Pelosi’s husband was home alone with his wife in Washington DC at the time.
When he discovered that the Speaker of the House was missing, Mr. DePape is said to have tried to tie up Mr. Pelosi in the hopes of waiting for her to return home. The alarm was raised when Mr Pelosi managed to secretly call 911 from his cell phone and spoke in “code” to a dispatcher.
The 82-year-old left the line open while speaking to Mr. DePape, which allowed the dispatcher to hear what was going on and send officers home.
When officers arrived at the scene, police said they saw both Mr. Pelosi and Mr. DePape with their hands on one hammer. At the time, Mr. DePape reportedly pulled away Mr. Pelosi’s hammer and “violently assaulted” him with it, beating him at least once.
Pelosi was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery on Friday for a fractured skull. He also suffered “serious injuries” to his right arm and hands, but is expected to make a full recovery.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said in a news conference that the attack was “deliberate” and “not an arbitrary act.”
While he did not provide details on a motive, he referred to Ms. Pelosi’s role as an elected official.
“It’s wrong. Our elected officials are here to do the business of their cities, their provinces, their states and this nation. Their families don’t want this to be harmed and it’s wrong,” he said.
Police sources said: KTVU that the attacker had a hit list of other lawmakers he also planned to target.
A search of Mr DePape’s online history has uncovered a deep-seated obsession with far-right conspiracy theories, including debunked claims about the Covid-19 vaccine and QAnon.
One subscription-based blog, reviewed by UKTNhe expressed a range of transphobic, anti-Semitic and racist views.
In the weeks leading up to the violent attack on Mr. Pelosi, the pace of messaging picked up, with Mr. DePape posting multiple times a day. Topics include Holocaust denial, false claims that Covid-19 vaccines are deadly, venerating alt-right figure Jordan Peterson, and his support for Donald Trump to run in 2024 with Tulsi Gabbard as his running mate.
An August 23 post on his alleged blog suggests that he was radicalized by GamerGate, a misogynistic campaign against feminism within the video game industry that sparked far-right reactionary movements among young men, parallel to the rise of QAnon and Donald’s presidential candidacy. Trump .
A separate blog hosted by WordPress featured similar content, including a post titled “pedophile normalization”.
Mr. DePape was arrested at the scene on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and other crimes.
As the attack on Pelosi comes amid a spate of reported threats against members of Congress and at a time when Trump and his supporters continue to make false claims about electoral fraud in 2020, right-wing commentators — including members of the right-wing media — have refused to comment. believe he was attacked by a man targeting the Speaker of the House.
Instead, they have been peddling baseless conspiracies to their base ever since.
Newsmax host Greg Kelly came under fire for suggesting Speaker Pelosi even “staged” the attack that required her 82-year-old husband to be hospitalized with serious injuries.
“I was just wondering if Nancy Pelosi was trying to STAGE her own mini January 6. Complete with leaving the doors and windows OPEN for ‘insurgents’ and this Depepe dude,” he tweeted Friday.
“THAT or she can’t secure her home or office!”
Mr Kelly appeared to have doubts about his comments and later deleted the post.
But the tweet had already been screened by several social media users who condemned his comments.
Musk’s decision to also spread a conspiracy theory about an attack on the relative of an elected official comes as questions mount up about how content will be regulated on Twitter with the billionaire businessman at the helm.
Prior to the closing of the acquisition on Thursday, Mr. Musk had pledged to cut back on content moderation in what he touts as a move to promote free speech.
This has led to speculation that users who were banned for posting offensive or false messages could soon be welcomed back to the platform.
Within hours of the takeover, right-wing commentators began flooding the platform with debunked conspiracy theories with phrases like “Trump won” popping up on the site. Fortune.
The attack on Mr. Pelosi came on the same day that US intelligence issued a dire warning to law enforcement that a wave of domestic violence extremism (DVE) could hit around the November midterms — particularly against lawmakers.
Data from the US Capitol Police shows that the number of reports of “concerning statements and threats” to members of Congress has nearly tripled in the past four years, from 3,939 in 2017 to 9,625 in 2021.
These threats culminated on January 6, 2021 when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol — fueled by his lies that the presidential election had been “stolen” from him — to try to undo Joe Biden’s victory.
Chilling footage from that day shows some rioters chasing Ms. Pelosi, asking “Where’s Nancy?” as they searched her office.
Others sang “Hang Mike Pence” after the vice president refused to try to overturn the election in Mr Trump’s favour.