The “Drunk Pelosi” Smear

The Story: 

A video that purported to show the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, slurring her words in a manner that suggested she was under the influence of alcohol, ricocheted around social media, with help from the President and from his personal attorney, beginning on May 22. The video was a fake, and this fakery has enhanced the already considerable polarization of politics in the United States.

The Fakery:

After President Trump walked out of a scheduled meeting about infrastructure initiatives with the Democratic leadership, Speaker Pelosi gave a statement saying that “we” (that leadership) “want to give this President the opportunity to do something historic for this country,” that is, rebuild roads and bridges to last.

A part-time sports blogger in the Bronx, who also appears to be a deep-dyed Trump admirer, slowed down the audio of Pelosi making that “we want to give …” statement, and altered her voice tone, producing the impression of drunkenness.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who now serves as the President’s private lawyer, posted the doctored footage on his twitter feed with the comment, “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.”

The Thing to Know: 

The facts that (1) the fraud spread as quickly as it did, and (2) it then unravelled as completely as it did, suggests both reasons for pessimism and for optimism with regard to the world’s plague of fake news in general.

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