Elon Musk tweets anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi attack
Twitter’s new owner, billionaire Elon Musk, has come under fire after tweeting an anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory about an alleged attack on Paul Pelosi.
Paul Pelosi, the husband of US house speaker Nancy Pelosi, was reportedly “violently assaulted” by a man who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home on Friday (28 October), according to her spokesperson.
San Francisco police chief William Scott accuses the suspect, David DePape, of attacking Pelosi, 82, with a hammer. He reportedly underwent a “successful” surgery on the same day he received “serious injuries” from the incident.
A source told CBS News DePape, 42, was attempting to reach Nancy Pelosi during the attack, reportedly shouting “where is Nancy?” before attacking Paul Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi was in Washington DC at the time.
Police said DePape will be charged with attempted homicide, among other charges.
Musk has since deleted an unfounded conspiracy theory he tweeted on Sunday (30 October), linking to a website fact-checkers have described as “false and misleading”, CNBC reported.
The tweet, which reached 24,000 retweets and more than 86,000 likes before it was deleted, saw Musk claim there was a “tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye”.
He then linked to a story from the Santa Monica Observer, which NBC News reporter Ben Collins said was “too disgusting to print”. It claimed, with no evidence whatsoever, Pelosi had been “on drugs” that night, and had met his attacker at an LGBTQ+ bar.
Following Musk’s tweet, fact-checking website Media Bias/Fact Check said the article in question “appears to be fake and defamatory”.
The site added: “The Santa Monica Observer is an imposter website that is designed to look like an authentic local news source.”
San Francisco police have since stated neither Paul Pelosi nor the suspect knew each other prior to the incident.
But Musk seemed not to take his linking to the conspiracy theory seriously, quoting a New York Times headline detailing that he had shared content from a site “known to publish false news”.
“This is fake – I did *not* tweet out a link to The New York Times!” he joked on Sunday.
Musk has been heavily criticised for the now-deleted tweet, with TV host Jimmy Kimmel saying: “It has been interesting, over the years, to watch you blossom from the electric car guy into a fully-formed piece of s**t.”
Musk’s tweet comes just days after he announced his $44 billion purchase of the social media site, firing CEO Parag Agrawal and other executive officers.
According to Bloomberg, Musk will serve as interim CEO, and in one of his first acts wants to reinstate users who have previously received lifetime bans, though he has not commented on whether former US president Donald Trump would be allowed back on Twitter.
Amnesty International USA raised red flags at Musk’s acquiring of the site, saying in a statement it is “concerned” by steps Twitter may take to “erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to protect users”.
“The last thing we need is a Twitter that wilfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others,” the charity said.
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