The right-wing media is a conspiracy engine that enables political violence | Techy Kings


Like Media Matters’ Matt Gertz later reported, as these falsehoods gained traction, these conspiracy theories were driven out of early reporting of the event, where reporters and their sources, in a similar attempt to nail down the facts, allowed inaccuracies to creep into the reporting: a retracted report that both Pelosi and DePape were found in their underwear; a 911 call in which Pelosi referred to DePape as a “friend” (it later emerged that Pelosi tried to communicate her situation to police without tipping off DePape); an early report saying there were no signs of forced entry, although a window was broken; and another ambiguous police report that may have suggested the presence of a third individual. This story has been completely debunked, both by subsequent reporting and by the recent federal charges against DePape. And yet it remains on the right.

It is not uncommon for the initial reports of this type of incident to undergo substantial revision; while it may be preferable for reporters to exercise greater restraint when in emergency fog, it can be a tricky balancing act in the moment. But the post that Musk shared, among other things, combined these minor inaccuracies with lies and other falsehoods to suggest that DePage and Pelosi had gotten drunk together and engaged in some kind of love affair. This absurd version of events, after being shared by Musk, was spread by other figures on the American right, including Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Dinesh D’Souza and others.

It should be easy to condemn the barbaric attack on Paul Pelosi. It should even be easy for many on the right to wash their hands of it because they condemn it because of DePage’s obvious mental instability. This may have been written off as a tragic attack by someone who is mentally unwell. It wasn’t that long ago that the far right could simply offer “thoughts and prayers” and an admonition against politicizing a tragedy as a way to offer some measure of moral condemnation of brutal events that harshly intersect with their political prerogatives. This was the time-honored way of responding to the school shootings that are uniquely prevalent in the United States: write them off as a toxic mixture of mental illness and video games; suggest more guns as the obvious solution. As for larger right-wing movements that more flamboyantly promote right-wing political violence, such as the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, it is often enough to suggest that these violent gangs pale in comparison to the specter of antifa.


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