What Really Happened To Paul Pelosi?
To start: I don't know what happened that night at the Pelosi house, and neither do you. Yet, anyway -- who knows what will come out today. So to speak. At this point, what actually happened there is the least interesting part of this story. Let me explain.
We know the official story: San Francisco lunatic breaks into home of elderly husband of House Speaker after midnight, demands to see his wife. Paul Pelosi talked his way into the bathroom, made a 911 call. Cops came around, saw the two men inside, faced off, and ordered the intruder to drop the hammer in his hand. He began to beat Pelosi, at which point the cops broke in, disarmed and arrested him. DePape, the loony, had been posting far-right conspiracy things on the Internet, but also lived in some sort of left-wing hippie house associated with nudism, BLM, and the rest. Here's a photo of the place, described by cops as a "hippie collective":
Like I said, a bona fide loony.
I am prepared to believe that it happened just as the official story has it. It makes the most sense, based on what we know now. But I've got questions.
First, how is it that the Pelosis didn't have better security? I'm not talking about federal agents guarding the house. I get that it's federal policy for no agents to be there if Speaker Pelosi isn't. I'm talking about basic home security. They're worth over $100 million. Nancy Pelosi is third in line to the presidency. When I lived in Baton Rouge, we had a relatively inexpensive home alarm system that would have gone off in such a circumstance. Why didn't the Pelosis? Or, as seems more likely, they did have a system, but it had somehow been disabled? If so, why?
Second, along those lines, nowadays, half the homeowners in America have a Ring camera. Surely the super-wealthy Pelosis have security cameras around their house, yes? Can we see the security video? If not, why not? I mean, if the official story is a full and accurate account of what happened, then show it to us. What's wrong with that? There must be security camera footage from other houses in that posh neighborhood. Do we have images of DePape stalking the streets, headed to the Pelosi home? Let's see it.
Third, this overhead shot of the Pelosi house shows a smashed glass door, allegedly from DePape trying to get into the house. The problem is the broken glass is outside, not inside. How exactly does that work? How do you break glass to get into a house, but the shards fall outside the house?
And fourth, in initial reports police spoke of being let into the house by a third person. The San Francisco police chief said on Friday night that this unidentified third person let police into the house. Who is the third man (or woman)?
Again, I find it hard to believe that 82-year-old Paul Pelosi had a spat with a secret gay lover, and that the creepy DePape was his lover. Nevertheless, basic journalistic curiosity ought to be kicking in right now. Things aren't adding up in this story, and powerful Democratic Party figures have an interest in keeping a scandal involving Nancy Pelosi suppressed only a week or so before the election, and further, pinning that scandal on evil Republicans.
Like I said, what actually happened to Paul Pelosi that night is, to me, less interesting than the way the news media have covered it. It's been 100 percent about Managing The Narrative. Matt Walsh nails it here:
What are the NYT, the WaPo, and Politico saying this morning about the story? Look:
Doubting law enforcement's account?! What will those evil right-wingers think of next?!
(That's an actual hard-news headline in The New York Times!) Here's Politico's lead:
Of course. The hippie nudist who lives in a pro-queer, pro-BLM commune, but who also posts insane right-wing conspiracy things, was driven to attack Paul Pelosi because of the Republicans.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh? The Congressional Republicans shot by the leftist would-be assassin in 2017? Crickets.
Rich Lowry points out that DePape is not the Manchurian Candidate of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, but in face a crazy person:
All of this requires imposing a coherence on David DePape’s mind that simply doesn’t exist, which would be obvious to anyone who paused for a minute to consider and absorb the evidence.
Listen to the person who perhaps knows him best — the mother of his two children, a woman named Oxane Taub (a.k.a. Gypsy), herself a whack-job serving jail time for trying to abduct a 14-year-old boy she was infatuated with.
(As a press release from the local DA’s office put it: “Over the course of 14 months, she sent him numerous obsessive emails, created blogs directed at him, used his friends to send him messages and eventually tried to abduct him a few blocks from his school in Berkeley. While the case was pending, Taub also tried to dissuade the victim from testifying.” And she was the rational half of the couple.)
In an interview from jail, conducted by a local TV station, Taub said, “He is mentally ill. He has been mentally ill for a long time.” She said he was missing for a year and then showed up again “in very bad shape.” According to Taub, “he thought he was Jesus.” She added, “He was constantly paranoid, thinking people were after him. And it took a good year or two to get back to, you know, being halfway normal.”
In a classic sign of serious mental illness, DePape believes that he was being targeted by invisible forces. In its review of what DePape wrote on his blog the week before the attack, the Washington Post found that he thought “that an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird.”
And so forth. But hey, why not blame Republicans and conservatives? It fits the Left's preferred narrative.
It is simply impossible to believe what the mainstream media report in cases like this, because they are hopelessly compromised, ideologically. Remember how they fell all over themselves to blast out Jussie Smollett's lies? His claims fit their preferred narrative. Same dynamic here. To be very clear, I am NOT saying that the official story is untrue! I am saying that the media instinctively believes its first task is to guard Paul Pelosi and (by extension) the Democrats from any scrutiny. Meanwhile, many of us are old enough to remember how strict they were about policing the discourse around Covid.
Well, yeah, because Bad People™ back then were sowing doubts about science's account! They had to be suppressed, right? Now, two years later, it's okay to endorse the lab leak theory, because proper liberal media sources (Pro Publica and Vanity Fair) say it's probably what happened.
If people don't believe the news media are genuinely interested in finding out what happened at the Pelosi house that night, how can you blame them? If it seems that the media are more concerned with blaming Republicans for the attack than in asking urgent questions about the lack of security around Pelosi's husband, well, what does that tell you about our media?
Back in 2002, when the Catholic sex abuse scandal broke big nationally, I participated in a Catholic journalism event in Washington. It had been scheduled before the scandal broke, but in the event itself, the scandal was all anybody wanted to talk about. I was on the hot seat because in National Review Online, I had been writing scathing commentary critical of the bishops (for those who don't know, I was a Catholic back then). One of my co-panelists, then a prominent conservative Catholic public intellectual, denounced me as sucking up to the Catholic-hating mainstream media. Another co-panelist, the Legionaries of Christ publisher of National Catholic Register (which the Legion later sold), patted himself on the back in his remarks, saying that his faithfully Catholic publication would never descend into the gutter to write about such filth.
We know how that turned out for everybody concerned.
I bring it up here because it's a clear example of the phenomenon we're seeing writ very large among professional journalism today, whenever a story threatens some liberal or progressive sacred cow. In the case of that particular public intellectual and the publisher, both men had a strong desire to protect the Catholic Church, and their internal instincts told them that the allegations and the information coming out (this was early 2002) surely must be a smear orchestrated and hyped by the Church's enemies. Even though there was unambiguous and urgent reason to credit many of the claims, both those men, at that time, stonewalled and denounced me as a provocateur.
Lest I get on my high horse, I did more or less the same thing that year to people questioning the "need" to go to war in Iraq. I genuinely thought I was doing the correct and even courageous thing. So too did those two Catholics I mention, I'm certain. And you know, the libs who produce and direct the Paul Pelosi coverage are no doubt doing the same thing. It's a professional hazard for journalists, and an unavoidable hazard of being human.
And look, these lines fall in places you don't normally expect. In 2012, I was delighted to be contacted by a freelance journalist who had written for The New York Times and other prominent publications, asking me what I knew about the Cardinal McCarrick story. He was working on a piece for the Times Magazine, and had run across my name in talking to sources. Turned out that I couldn't tell him anything he didn't already know. Amazingly, this reporter had done what so many of us had failed to do: he actually dug up a settlement between McCarrick and a seminarian he raped, the court papers of which had been buried. And this reporter got an on the record interview with McCarrick's victim. I was thrilled to know that finally that dirty old man was going to be exposed!
The story never came out. I contacted the reporter, who was flummoxed by it all. He said that a few weeks before publication, the editor who commissioned the piece left for a new job, and the new editor to whom he answered had thrown all kinds of roadblocks in front of the story. I asked the reporter if the new editor was gay. Yes, said the reporter, and pointed me to the man's wedding announcement appearing in the Times. I told the reporter that my guess -- and that's all it was -- is that the editor is running interference for McCarrick, not because he has any interest in protecting the Catholic Church, but because he doesn't want a story about a powerful predatory gay man in print, because it would confirm stereotypes held by conservatives. Whatever the truth, the story never ran. McCarrick was finally outed in 2018, after Cardinal Egan brought forth information, and the Times jumped on the story.
We all live in psychological worlds we have constructed to make sense to us, and we fiercely resist challenge to the structures of that world. One of the reasons my relationship with my Louisiana family broke down is that back in 2012, I came to my folks with shocking news about a potentially devastating situation in the family that they then had the power to fix. They refused to believe me, because if I was telling the truth, then their whole model of how the world worked would be challenged. They told me I was a liar. Stress over this was one of the things that led to the collapse of my health. By year's end, everything I warned them about had been revealed as true, and had catastrophic consequences. They then said to everyone, "How were we supposed to know?!" I seethed. But you know, my late father's own father did the exact same thing to him back in the early 1990s, and caused immense pain to my dad, who was only trying to protect his father from someone trying to take advantage of him.
One reason epistemology (how we know what we know) fascinates me is because of things like this. As I said, I've been guilty of it too, and probably will be again, no matter how hard I try to overcome those biases. None of us can know everything, all the time. The best we can do is to follow where evidence and instinct leads us, but also to try to avoid coming to firm conclusions without evidence. Elon Musk should not have tweeted out that scandal-sheet account of what supposedly really happened at Paul Pelosi's place, because it was based on gross speculation, and if untrue, it was slanderous. It would have been sufficient to have simply said that there are many unanswered questions in the Pelosi break-in, and leave it at that.
In the end, I don't care about the Paul Pelosi story as such, except that I hope his attacker faces justice (whatever really happened that night, an old man was severely injured by a lunatic with a hammer), and I hope that the federal government increases security for the family members of top officials. What I do care about in this story is the disgraceful way our mainstream media have taken it upon themselves to manage the narrative, again. At this point, though, who is surprised? Who believes them? I live in a conservative bubble, I suppose, where most people I know question to some degree almost everything they hear, see, or read in the MSM (though, to be fair, many of us don't question often enough what we hear from our preferred sources). What about most Americans? How can anybody trust these people in the media anymore?
I guess it's an evergreen question, but just the other day, Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple published an admirable mea culpa for not pressing actual journalistic questions at the time the NYT defenestrated opinion editor James Bennet. Wemple wrote:
Our [meaning Wemple's -- RD] criticism of the Twitter outburst comes 875 days too late. Although the hollowness of the internal uproar against Bennet was immediately apparent, we responded with an evenhanded critique of the Times’s flip-flop, not the unapologetic defense of journalism that the situation required. Our posture was one of cowardice and midcareer risk management. With that, we pile one more regret onto a controversy littered with them.
He was scared to challenge the Times's narrative, he admits. The internal left-wing journalists' mob -- including inside the Washington Post -- was too frightening. In those days, they had real power to manage the narratives inside newsrooms. I suppose they still do. This was just an egregious example of the kind of thing that has been going on in newsrooms for years. There is no telling how many Pulitzer Prizes might have been won had journalists not been afraid that their work might give aid and comfort to conservatives. Yesterday I reprinted much of a 2019 post about my visit three years ago on that day with a Russian Orthodox priest who oversees a national monument to those murdered in political violence in Russia. In the post, I quoted Father Kirill Kaleda talking about how growing up in the Soviet Union, his parents discouraged him from following a career path that would have required him to lie for a living, as a condition of living in a totalitarian state. He became a scientist instead, before his calling to the priesthood. In our time and place, I would have to think hard about encouraging any honest young man or woman to go into journalism. It's not that newsrooms are liberal. Newsrooms have always been liberal -- but they used to be fair-minded.
They aren't anymore, it appears. Bari Weiss, and many others, have written about how elite newsrooms are really run by a progressive mob who intimidate weak liberal managers -- like Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger -- into doing their bidding. Can you imagine how brave you would have had to have been to have questioned Jussie Smollett's claim, even though his account of what his alleged attackers said to him -- "This is MAGA Country" -- was patently phony? A newsroom in which reporters and editors are too intimidated by the mob to raise basic questions about a story is not one in which journalism can be done. Nor is a newsroom in which it doesn't occur to anybody to question versions of a story, because a particular version suits what they prefer to believe. This is what many American newsrooms have become: echo chambers. What is going to become of journalism when the younger generation of reporters, who were formed by a youth culture and academic culture in which people with heterodox opinions were taught to keep their mouths shut for the sake of preserving their own jobs and well being, populate newsrooms? We're seeing it right now.
Hey, they protected Joe Biden from the Hunter Biden laptop story when an election was on the line. Why wouldn't they protect Nancy Pelosi from scandal involving her husband? Once more: I think things probably happened as the official story says they did, but I'm far from certain, and I know well that the media have reason to suppress a damaging story to protect the Democrats, and have done so before.
I subscribe to both the Washington Post and The New York Times, because I need to do so for my job. One of the most valuable things about reading both papers is observing how the American elite presents this country and its people, and the world, to itself. I believe it was Michael Crichton many years ago who said that if you've ever had to deal with a journalist in an area of your own expertise, you come to understand quickly how fragile journalistic accounts purporting to show reality can be. It's unfair for people to expect journalists to get things 100 percent correct every time they publish or broadcast. Stories change as more facts come out. But it is completely fair for people to expect journalists to make good-faith attempts to tell the whole truth, as best they can within the limits of the format.
I suppose you could say that journalism has always been like this, but I don't buy it. I was trained in journalism school in the 1980s. We really were taught that fairness was a core responsibility of the journalist. We really were taught that we should develop skepticism, even towards ourselves. These were qualities that were once prized in American journalism. All of us fell short of those ideals, but the point is, they were ideals taken seriously by most professional journalists. At least that's the way I remember it.
I don't believe it anymore. There are certainly good journalists with loads of professional integrity. I'm friends with some. But on the whole, I think the profession is rotted out with ideology. The husband of one of America's most prominent politicians is attacked at home under bizarre circumstances that can't (yet) be adequately explained -- and the country's most prominent newsrooms immediately make the story about how this is all the fault of the Republican Party? It's like a joke, except this is what we've come to. Paul Pelosi may well have been the innocent victim of a madman. That's the most reasonable story, absent more information. But it's far from an open-and-shut story, and given how liberal politicians and media figures are trying to pin this on conservatives, it is very much in the public interest for the police to release security camera video and everything else they have about what happened that night.
Don't you ever wonder where all this is going? Somebody pointed out the other day on Twitter how funny it is to observe people who work for major publications owned by Jeff Bezos (the Washington Post) and Steve Jobs's widow (The Atlantic) freak out over what it might mean for a wealthy Silicon Valley figure (Elon Musk) to own a major media outlet. These people are so utterly unaware of how insular they are, how out of touch, how hypocritical.
And yet, for all that, they still have an incredible amount of power to set the narrative. Here in Budapest, I was talking to an American last week about how very little the American people know about the suffering underway now in Europe, and headed this way in the winter. The details about how ordinary Europeans are facing economic catastrophe over the cost of energy this winter are going underreported in the United States. If most Americans understood the calamity faced by European families, they would likely be more skeptical of the US Government's Ukraine strategy. If the American people were facing what European peoples are this winter, there would be a hell of a lot more debate over the sustainability of America's policy towards the war. Mark my words, a hell of a lot of anti-establishment, anti-American sentiment is going to rise in Europe this winter, from people who cannot understand why they had to be left cold, poor, and hungry for the sake of fighting the Russians in Ukraine. None of this is to justify Russian policy in Ukraine, mind you, but only to say that the story is a lot more complicated than the American media are telling the American people.
And along those lines, how much do you know about the ongoing slaughter of Nigerian Christians by Nigerian Muslims? It happens all the time, but almost never appears in our media. Why do you suppose that is?
The answer, according to NGO personnel I know who advocate for persecuted Christians, is that among the Western elites -- governmental, academic, journalistic -- Christians can only ever be persecutors, never the persecuted. We wouldn't want to focus on Muslim persecution of Christians, because that might give aid and comfort to bigots at home. Et cetera.
OK, I've gone on long enough. The takeaway point is this: if people are losing faith in the American system, the manic attempt by elites (defined as those managing institutions) to control narratives instead of allowing discussion is a major part of it.
UPDATE: Judging by my correspondence, I've been unclear. I believe that Paul Pelosi was probably attacked by a lunatic stranger. I believe that because it makes the most sense, though there are some loose ends in the story, as I said above. I don't believe it because the media report it, because I have come to see the media as more eager to suppress bad news for its favored personalities than to report the truth, or even to search for the truth when it stands to hurt their own. The Hunter Biden laptop story is unforgettable.
A reader writes to accuse me of trafficking in gossip by bringing up the allegations some have made that Paul Pelosi was seeing a gay prostitute, or lover. Look, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and the new owner of Twitter, retweeted a scurrilous story making that claim. This has been reported on in the mainstream media. It's perfectly normal to talk about it, it seems to me, because the allegation -- most likely false -- has become part of the overall story.
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UPDATE.2: Police have released what they say is a confession by DePape. Excerpt from the NYT story:
Mr. DePape was looking for Ms. Pelosi, who was in Washington at the time, to interrogate the speaker on an unspecified political matter, according to the federal complaint. If she told the “truth,” he would let her go; if she “lied,” he intended to break her kneecaps because he saw her as “the ‘leader of the pack’ of lies told by the Democratic Party” and wanted her to be wheeled into Congress as a lesson to other Democrats, Mr. DePape told police officers in an interview.
He had “a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, which filed the charges.
Well, that should put an end to any sordid speculation. Even if the loose ends mentioned above are not yet fully tied up, it's clear from the confession what DePape was there to do.