The brutal attack on Paul Pelosi appears to have been motivated by the lies Republicans and conservative media tell their base and the suspect used violence in the hope of achieving a political end.
The suspected attacker of Paul Pelosi reportedly told the police he was in the house to take Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage and break her kneecaps because she was the “leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party.”
He later told investigators “that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions.”
NBC’s Ben Collins shared:
The DoJ filing speaks more to the political motive of the suspect (my emphasis): “DePape is charged with one count of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. DePape is also charged with one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”
Additionally, the San Francisco DA charged him with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
As Harry Litman said after the attack, “The big point here, look, this is an act of terrorism.”
The suspect’s confession to the police confirms Litman’s call. Terrorism is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The suspect admitted he thought if Nancy Pelosi was wheeled into Congress, it would send a warning to other members.
The suspect, David DePape, recently published hundreds of blog sharing memes supporting far right personalities, hatred of Jewish people, Black people, Democrats, transgender people – the basket of conspiracies Republicans push on their base to rile them up.
Republicans have been demonizing Nancy Pelosi for decades.
The attacker’s admission to the police is important it refutes the lies being told so loudly they are drowning out the facts. The lies are being told for the deliberate purpose of obscuring the fact that there are horrific consequences to the Big Lie and all of the other lies Republican Party leaders tell their base.
Ben Collins deconstructed the Republican lies about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the normalization of violence and the lies on the Internet, and warned today that this is how we lose our democracy.
Now that you know the conspiracies are fake, here’s one of the least offensive examples of the lies Republicans are pushing:
Of course Donald Trump, Jr weighed in with the class level for which his family is infamous. Because Paul Pelosi, “Pop” as his family calls him, was attacked at 2:30 AM while in his underwear Republicans decided he was having a gay affair, because who sleeps in their underwear in their own home:
The point of these lies isn’t necessarily to get you to believe them, but as the Russians do, it’s to confuse and conflate things to the point where people do not know what is real anymore. If they don’t know what’s real, they won’t feel like participating in their government; they’ll check out and let the authoritarians grab more power.
They’ve tried to “both sides” it:
Not only do both sides not refuse to push back on their supporters, but Democratic leadership is not lying to their base about a presidential election.
Democrats are not telling their base Republicans have stolen an election from them and used the power of the government to attack them.
It’s easy to see how someone vulnerable could be radicalized by these lies – imagine really believing that one party stole an entire election. Imagine being told that by the very leader of the entire party, and almost every single elected member of the party not having the guts to say on TV that it was a lie.
Additionally, the person standing out front of Kavanaugh’s home thankfully did not get near entering it, let alone attacking members of Kavanaugh’s family. They also called 911 to turn themselves in. That is not even in the same world as what happened to Paul Pelosi, who was rushed into surgery for a skull fracture and severe arm and hand wounds after being attacked with a hammer.
It is inaccurate to compare a threat to an actual attack. Both are wrong, but they are not the same thing.
Furthermore, Republicans keep bringing up the 2017 shooting of Steve Scalise – another horrific moment of violence in our country. But the FBI labeled that shooting “Suicide by cop,” apparently they didn’t think it was motivated by politics. But even if it had been motivated by politics (and Scalise certainly thinks it was caused by a “deranged Leftist”), the motivation didn’t come from Democratic leadership.
Violence is always wrong. Terrorism can’t become a way of life in our country, and yet it is.
The Paul Pelosi conspiracies raging on social media demonstrates how the disinformation ecosystem promulgates in the wild west of unregulated social media and pushes until it’s picked up by mainstream media and gets established firmly as an “alternative” fact.
Elon Musk helped that process along as the owner of Twitter when he retweeted the conspiracy to Hillary Clinton in an attempt to mansplain to the former Secretary of State about a violent attack about which he knew nothing. Then several mainstream outlets picked it up, published it, conservatives screengrabbed the stories so when they were taken down by outlets with a sense of responsibility to the truth, the lie is still shareable and continues to grow.
We face threats to our democracy at every turn, and attacks on facts are a big part of that threat as are the people who push the lies.
Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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