Early Friday morning, QAnon conspiracy theorist named David Depape reportedly broke into Paul Pelosi’s home in San Francisco looking for his wife, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and brutally beat him with a hammer. Paul is now recovering in the hospital after undergoing emergency surgery to repair a skull fracture, and Nancy—the third woman in line to be the president—avoided the assassination attempt by being in Washington, D.C.
Hillary Clinton tweeted about the attack Saturday, condemning the “deranged conspiracy theories” like QAnon that incite violence and sharing a Los Angeles Times story that details Depape’s extreme right-wing views:
Elon Musk replied to Clinton’s tweet Sunday morning, ironically, by spreading a deranged conspiracy theory about the Pelosi attack. “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” he tweeted, linking to a story claiming that Paul Pelosi is gay and that Depape is a prostitute he’d invited into his home to have sex with. The story is in the Santa Monica Observer, a fringe website masquerading as local news that once claimed Hillary Clinton was dead and that Democrats had replaced her with a body double to debate Trump.
The theory seems to have originated from a Fox affiliate story that reported and then later retracted the claim that Depape was in his underwear when police arrived.
Musk, who has 112 million Twitter followers, deleted the tweet hours later—but not before the theory spread like wildfire. Not even a full week after taking over the platform, the right-wing billionaire already confirmed everyone’s worst fears about what would happen to Twitter under his leadership—use of the n-word on the platform immediately spiked by 500 percent, with the worst trolls and incels on the site feeling emboldened to openly spew their hate. And now Musk, himself, is using the platform to amplify and egg on and coax out the darkest corners of the internet, bringing fringe disinformation into the mainstream.
It bears repeating: Two days ago, there was an assassination attempt on the third person in line to be president by a MAGA conspiracy theorist. And the CEO of a major social media network is encouraging people to ignore all the reported facts about the attack and come up with a story of their own that suits their politics and just feels better to believe. It’s impossible for democracy to function like this.