On the morning of Oct. 28, 2022, a man, later identified as David DePape broke into the home of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Only her 82-year-old husband, Paul, was home. Police reported that the intruder severely beat Paul Pelosi with a hammer, resulting in a skull fracture and serious injury to his right arm and hands. The incident soon spawned a false conspiracy theory claiming that Mr Pelosi had brought the man who attacked him home from a gay bar. That same rumour was then amplified by Elon Musk in a tweet (since deleted), just days after he had reportedly become the new owner of Twitter.
The tweet contained a link to an article from a website called the Santa Monica Observer, headlined: “The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning.” The “drunk again” part of the headline refers to Pelosi’s May 2022 arrest for driving under the influence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five days in jail and three years of probation.
The Santa Monica Observer is no stranger to misinformation, having previously published misleading information about Covid-19, politics and other topics, according to NewsGuard, a company that assesses the reliability of websites. One false story claimed Hillary Clinton died and was replaced by a body double during a 2016 presidential debate while another said Donald Trump appointed Kanye West, to an administration position.
The article purports to describe “what really happened” in the author’s “humble opinion,” claiming that Pelosi had met DePape at a gay bar and brought him to his house. The article also claimed that both men were in their underwear when the police arrived and that Pelosi was in fact the owner of the hammer used in the attack.
The awful truth?
A quick search found the charging documents for the case, which contradict these claims. Additionally, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, in response to the claims called them “baseless, fact-less theories” during an October 31 appearance on CNN.
According to the documents, in a recorded interview DePape provided to San Francisco Police Department officers after he was read his rights, DePape said he broke into the house through a glass door hoping to find Nancy Pelosi and described a plan to break her kneecaps.
DePape said he woke Paul Pelosi and planned to restrain him before Mr Pelosi called the police and the two men moved downstairs. DePape also said Pelosi ran over and opened the door when police knocked. DePape struck Pelosi in the head with a hammer as police arrived. He also had zip ties, tape and rope on him. The affidavit says nothing about a sexual relationship.
Instead, contradicting claims that the two men entered the Pelosi residence together, the filing says DePape “stated that he broke into the house through a glass door, which was a difficult task that required the use of a hammer. DePape stated that Pelosi was in bed and appeared surprised by DePape.”
In conclusion, none of the conspiracy theories explored in the Santa Monica Observer article seem to have any evidence to support them. The case documents show that the two men did not know each other before the attack and that DePape had carried out the attack with a hammer belonging to him, using it to break into the Pelosi residence as well. As such, the claim that Paul Pelosi was attacked because of a dispute involving a male prostitute is false.