David DePape attacks Paul Pelosi and attempts to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, driven by right-wing conspiracy theories 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/13/us/paul-pelosi-david-depape-trial.html
Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/13/us/paul-pelosi-david-depape-trial.html

Helium Summary: David DePape, a Canadian citizen, planned an attack on former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, with the aim of curbing perceived government corruption, influenced by extreme right-wing media and conspiracy theories like QAnon.

The assault, which involved a hammer, occurred in October 2022, led to Paul Pelosi suffering from injuries including a fractured skull.

DePape was charged not only for assault but also attempted kidnapping of a federal official.

DePape pleaded not guilty, despite video evidence.

He admitted that he was influenced by right-wing conspiracy theories including Gamergate [Kotaku][CNN][CBS]. DePape was subsequently found guilty and could face up to 50 years in prison [CBS].

November 17, 2023


David DePape's attack on Paul Pelosi was caught on a police bodycam video. His plan drove off of right-wing media and conspiracy theories[CBS][bbc.co.uk].

DePape testified that he first was drawn to right-wing conspiracies after hearing of Gamergate, an online harassment campaign against women[Kotaku].


Perspective of the prosecutor

The prosecution claimed that DePape was there with a plan to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, causing harm to Paul Pelosi in the process[CNN]

Perspective of the defense

The defense did not dispute DePape's involvement in the assault but argued his objective was not related to Nancy Pelosi's official duties. Instead, they emphasized DePape's right-wing conspiracy-driven beliefs as his motivation[CBS][CBS].

Perspective of the victim

Paul Pelosi described the attack as shocking and traumatic, highlighting the severity of the danger, but also testified that he tried to stay calm during the incident[WION][bbc.co.uk].


Are right-wing conspiracy theories noted in the case widely believed?

Yes, the defense emphasized that DePape believed 'with every ounce of his being' in these theories, which includes those that demonize government officials and elites [CBS][CBS].

What was DePape's exact plan for Nancy Pelosi?

DePape went to Pelosi's home to confront her about the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and planned to make her admit to her corruption. He intended to document this confrontation and upload it online[Daily Kos][CBS].

News Media Bias (?)

Most sources provided a balanced view of the case, presenting information from both the defense and the prosecution.

However, Kotaku was less neutral, emphasizing the negative impact of Gamergate and connecting it directly to online hate campaigns [Kotaku]. CNN and CBS, while also objective, highlighted the shockwaves the incident sent through Washington because of the rising threats against public officials[CNN][CBS].


This incident occurred during a period of increased threats against public officials in the United States, heightening concerns about the implications of political violence and harassment in the context of escalating partisan animosity.


The case underscores the dangerous potential of online disinformation and the vulnerability of public figures. It highlights the willingness of individuals to resort to violence under the influence of conspiracy theories[Kotaku][CBS].

Potential Outcomes

DePape, after being found guilty, faces up to 50 years in prison .

The case highlighted the threats to public figures and might prompt additional security considerations for such individuals .

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