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David DePape's Hammer Attack on Paul Pelosi refers to the assault of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul Pelosi in late October 2022 when he was attacked by a male assailant named David DePape in his San Francisco home. During the incident Paul was hit in the head with a hammer, causing a skull fracture that hospitalized him. DePape's attack was likened to alt-right rhetoric and the January 6th, 2021, Storming of the U.S. Capitol by some. Controversial discourse and conspiracies also surfaced online about the attack involving the website Smobserved (Sanat Monica Observer), which claimed "the awful truth" that Paul Pelosi was allegedly drunk and at a gay bar the night before the attack and that the attacker was a male prostitute. According to the outlet, the two apparently fought in their underwear. However, these facts were disputed by major news outlets. Elon Musk also tweeted a link to Smobserved's article furthering controversy, as well as Donald Trump Jr. sharing a "hammer fight in underwear" meme on Instagram, additionally resulting in backlash.
On the morning of October 28th, 2022, Paul Pelosi was attacked in his San Francisco home by a male assailant with a hammer. According to police reports, the male assailant screamed, "Where is Nancy?" upon entering the home. He tied up Paul Pelosi “until Nancy got home” and reportedly was "waiting for Nancy" when the police arrived.
The suspect was identified as 42-year-old David DePape. When the police arrived on the scene, the home's front door was ajar and Pelosi and DePape had their hands on a single hammer. Officers saw DePape strike Pelosi at least once in the face. The officers then approached the suspect and tackled him, taking him into custody.
David DePape's Facebook and WordPress Blogs
According to multiple sources, David DePape is a Berkeley, California resident who's 42-years-old. His main social media presence was on Facebook where he posted COVID-19 and January 6th conspiracy theories (since deleted).
DePape purportedly had two WordPress blogs under the username daviddepape (since deleted). One blog was called godisloving, also known as Big Brothers Censorship Hell, in which daviddepape posted multiple pieces in August 2022 and condemned "the elites/ruling class" and "tech giants and private industry."
User daviddepape's other blog was called frenlyfrens in which his posts leaned more towards anti-vaccination, disinformation, anti-Semitism and transphobia, among other topics some considered to be right-wing. For example, one of the blog posts from the user on October 25th, 2022, was titled, "Disinfo Shill Tactics" (shown below, top). Another blog from the user was posted on October 27th and was about Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's movie Black Adam (shown below, bottom).
Although WordPress removed user davidpape's blogs from their website, it's currently unconfirmed that the blogs belonged to Paul Pelosi's attacker David DePape.
Smobserved's "The Awful Truth" / Paul Pelosi Was Drunk
On October 29th, 2022, the website Smobserved, also known as the Santa Monica Observer, published an article titled, "The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning." The article alleged that Paul Pelosi was at a gay bar in San Francisco the night before the attack and went home with a gay man to have intercourse. The article went on to identify DePape as a "'Former Castro Nudist Protester' and hemp 'jewelry maker.'" Smobserved referenced an anonymous source that revealed both men were in their underwear fighting for the hammer when the police arrived and that DePape was a male prostitute.
The article made waves in alt-right discourse following its publication due to the Sanat Monica Observer being a previously known contributor to such political media. According to some major news outlets, the Santa Monica Observer is reportedly a hub of conspiratory disinformation and fake news. For instance, in 2016, Smobserved published an article titled, "Hillary Clinton Died on Sept. 11, Actually. That was her Body Double in Front of Chelsea's."
Elon Musk's Reply to Hillary Clinton
Smoserved's article on Paul Pelosi's attack went largely unnoticed in mainstream media until Twitter CEO Elon Musk linked it in a since-deleted reply to Hillary Clinton on October 30th, 2022. Clinton's tweet was sent on October 29th and labeled "The Republican Party and its mouthpieces" as the culprits for spreading the disinformation that led to DePape's attack on Pelosi. Musk then replied with a link to Smobserved's article, captioning it, "There is a tiny possibility there is more to this story than meets the eye" (shown below).
Musk's tweet garnered multiple reactions from Twitter users on both sides of the political aisle who either condemned Musk's opinion or supported it. For instance, the Twitter account WallStreetSilv tweeted a screenshot of Musk's tweet on October 30th, captioning it, "Elon just fact checked Hillary hard. Wow … Twitter has certainly changed," gaining roughly 84,800 likes in one day (shown below, left). Twitter user JuddLegum condemned Musk for spreading misinformation on October 30th in a tweet that received roughly 25,600 likes in one day (shown below, right).
Following the deletion of Musk's tweet and the backlash he received on October 30th, 2022, Musk tweeted a screenshot of a New York Times article that condemned Musk for spreading Smobserved's disinformation. Musk captioned the screenshot, "This is fake – I did *not* tweet out a link to The New York Times!" and gained roughly 536,500 likes in less than a day (shown below).
Donald Trump Jr.'s "Hammer Fight In Underwear" Meme On Instagram
On October 30th, 2022, Donald Trump Jr. posted a meme to Instagram that showed a pair of underwear and a hammer with the caption, "Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready," and received roughly 90,300 likes in less than a day (shown below). The original creator of the aforementioned meme was Twitter user REMASCULATE on October 30th, who received roughly 18,900 likes in less than a day.
Trump Jr.'s sharing of the meme received backlash and news coverage. On October 31st, 2022, he shared another meme to Instagram that showed South Park characters made to look like Pelosi and DePape having intercourse, gaining roughly 82,500 likes in two hours (shown below).