Democrats, media jump the gun to pin Paul Pelosi assault on Trump, Republicans
The alleged attacker, David DePape, identified himself as a Green Party member.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Following the attack on Paul Pelosi, Democrats and the media quickly framed the alleged assailant as a right-wing conspiracy theorist incited to violence by rhetoric from former President Donald Trump and Republicans.
The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was allegedly attacked in their home by 42-year-old suspect David DePape with a hammer as police arrived on the scene. Paul Pelosi was rushed into surgery Friday morning with a fractured skull but is expected to make a full recovery.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said DePape — who reportedly yelled, "Where's Nancy?" — will be charged with "attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and several other additional felonies."
In CNN's original story on the attack, it noted that DePape "posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6 attack, and an acquaintance told CNN that he seemed 'out of touch with reality.'"
According to CNN, one post on the suspect's since-removed Facebook account was titled "Democrat FARCE Commission to Investigate January 6th Capitol Riot COLLAPSES in Congress!!!"
Another CNN story, which was updated after the original article, began by mentioning the above "conspiracy theories" before adding later in the story, "A 2013 article in the San Francisco Chronicle identified him as a 'hemp jewelry maker,' and said that he lived with a nudist activist."
The Chronicle reported on a blog removed on Friday that was reportedly authored by DePape, noting that many of the posts "repeated far-right conspiracy theories or included bigoted language about Black people, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and LGBTQ people."
Another post on the blog was titled "The woke are Racists with a guilty conscience," according to the Chronicle.
The outlet also noted that photos from its 2013 story "show a fully clothed DePape dancing with famed nudist activist Gypsy Taub and her new husband Jaymz Smith," as he "was the best man at the wedding."
"DePape was one of a number of activists who took to the streets to promote public nudity in 2011 and 2012," according to State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the Chronicle reported.
Years ago, "DePape listed himself as a member of the Green Party," according to another story the outlet wrote on him.
MSNBC opinion columnist Ruth Ben-Ghiat was quick to link the attack on Pelosi to violent Trumpian rhetoric.
"Trump's fateful speech — which directly preceded the breach of the U.S. Capitol — shows how demagogues can get people into this different state of mind," Ben-Ghiat wrote on Friday. "Much ink has been spilled in recent years worrying whether increasing polarization in the United States is to blame for increased likelihood of political violence. But that view misses the mark. Trump and his followers engage in something wholly different from polarization: survivalism."
The MSNBC Twitter account posted the article with the caption: "The far-right preaches violence and fear. Then an armed man broke into Nancy Pelosi's home."
Meanwhile, actor and outspoken progressive Democrat Rob Reiner tweeted on Friday: "Donald Trump has been spreading The Big Lie for 2 years. The violent assault on Paul Pelosi and the attempt to murder Speaker Pelosi is directly related to that Lie. Donald Trump is 100% responsible for this and Jan.6. He must be indicted and never be allowed to hold office."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) retweeted a clip of Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Fox News. Letting "dangerous criminals out on the streets with bail and not put them in prison, you're just asking for this sort of incident to happen," McCaul says in the clip. "And I think it created the environment where this happens."
The New York congresswoman responded in her tweet: "Or maybe a billionaire-fueled propaganda channel that regularly generates high volumes of death threats to elected officials while pumping propaganda for an extreme right-wing that openly embraces fascism is what's creating 'the environment where it happened.'"
Others, like author and comedian Tim Young, weren't entirely persuaded by the instant effort on the left to identify Pelosi's attacker with the populist right. "The lunatic who allegedly assaulted Paul Pelosi," he tweeted drily, "is a Berkeley resident and a 'Former Castro [District] Nudist Protester' and hemp 'jewelry maker' ... sounds totally MAGA Republican to me."