Police discover David Depape in Paul Pelosi's house

What happened to Paul Pelosi 

On October 28, 2022, Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked with a hammer. The incident was quickly covered by left-rated and right-rated media outlets, and its sensational nature fueled bias and misinformation across the media spectrum.

Police released footage showing Paul and David DePape, the man who perpetrated the crime, wrestling over a hammer. After DePape refused to drop the hammer, the police rushed in and took the hammer from DePape.

Pelosi was left with a fractured skull and other injuries. Law enforcement officials told CBS news (Lean Left bias) that the intruder was shouting “Where is Nancy,” suggesting that the attack had political motivations. 

Depape was charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, and other felonies. 

How the Media and Pundits Responded

At first, the attack was universally condemned. Even former President Donald Trump, a longtime critic of Pelosi, called the violence “a terrible thing.”

Within days, the attack became highly politicized. Some voices blamed the attack on DePape’s far-right political affiliations, while others pushed back against that narrative, accusing left-wing media of weaponizing the incident against the right.

Many theories circled online, including one that DePape was a sex worker and another that he was a nudist activist.

DePape posted many blogs online leading up to the incident, some of which cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election and criticized vaccines. Some pundits claimed that these blogs were fake or planted by the government, despite a statement from DePape’s daughter that the blogs were posted by her father. 

Overall, these theories came mostly from voices on the right. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared a tweet calling the attacker a “hippie nudist from Berkeley” and called the idea that DePape was motivated by right-wing Ideology “absurd.”

Then-Twitter (now X) CEO Elon Musk amplified the theories in a now-deleted tweet, saying that “there is a tiny possibility there may be more to this story than meets the eye.” 

RELATED: Paul Pelosi Attack Condemned by Both Sides as Theories Persist

These claims echoed many recent “false-flag” conspiracy theories. 

What is a False-Flag Operation

A “false flag” is a phrase commonly used by conspiracy theorists. They describe a “harmful, often militant, event or action that is designed to appear as though perpetrated by someone other than the person or group responsible for it. 

Over the last few years, accusations that incidents are actually “false flags” have been increasing in number, particularly from right-rated pundits. For example, Alex Jones was ordered to pay over $1 billion in damages after he claimed that the Sandy Hook shootings were staged by gun control activists. Similar accusations persisted after the Uvalde, Buffalo, and El Paso shootings. 

There were similar claims after January 6th, in which right-rated media outlets and pundits argued the FBI orchestrated the capitol attack. 

The theories surrounding the Pelosi attack mostly fall under this umbrella by trying to create uncertainty regarding DePape’s true motives, or by blaming the attack on the CIA or left-wing operatives

Was The Attack On Paul Pelosi A “False Flag” Operation?

There is no evidence to support this notion. All other evidence, including police reports, witness testimony, and video evidence, is inconsistent with conspiracies that the attack was a false flag operation or that DePape was motivated by anything other than ideology. 

An NBC News (Lean Left bias) report on the attack cited anonymous sources who said that when police arrived at the house, Paul Pelosi “did not immediately declare an emergency or leave his home, but instead he began walking several feet back into the foyer toward the assailant.” NBC News later deleted the story and added a note reading, “This piece has been removed from publication because it did not meet NBC News reporting standards.”

DePape was found guilty of breaking in and attacking Pelosi byy a federal jury in November 2023 and could face up to life in prison.

Ethan Horowitz is a news assistant at AllSides  He has a Lean Right bias. 

This piece was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff, AllSides Content Designer (Lean Left bias) and Henry A. Brechter, Editor-in-chief (Center bias).