Pelosi & Kavanaugh Murder Plots Show Media Double Standard
The same news media that mischaracterized psychosis as fanaticism in the alleged plot to kill Pelosi also downplayed the assassination plot against Kavanaugh by an abortion rights fanatic.
David DePape, the suspect in an alleged assassination attempt against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wrote a series of right-wing blog posts in recent weeks. “Many of the posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, Democrats, the media and transgender people,” notes The Washington Post. “In one post, written on Oct. 19, the author urged former President Donald J. Trump to choose Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii, as his vice-presidential candidate in 2024,” reports The New York Times. “In another,” wrote The Los Angeles Times, “he called ‘equity’ a leftist dog whistle ‘for the systematic oppression of white people’ and ‘diversity’ a ‘dog whistle for the genocide of the white race.’”
But the blog posts confirm my original reporting yesterday that DePape has been, for at least a decade, in the grip of a psychosis caused by mental illness and/or drug use. The Washington Post, to its credit, reports in the first paragraph that DePape’s blog was filled with “delusional thoughts, including that an invisible fairy attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to him in the form of a bird” and that, as each post loaded, “a reader briefly glimpses an image of a person wearing a giant inflatable unicorn costume.” The New York Times acknowledged that, “mixed in with those posts were others about religion, the occult and images of fairies that the user said he had produced using an artificial intelligence imaging system,” albeit not until the 22nd paragraph.
And now the mother of DePape’s two children, Gypsy Taub, has publicly confirmed that DePape has experienced psychotic episodes. "He is mentally ill,” she told ABC7, “He has been mentally ill for a long time." Taub said DePape disappeared for almost a year and “came back in very bad shape. He thought he was Jesus. He was constantly paranoid, thinking people were after him. And it took a good year or two to get back to, you know, being halfway normal.” However, it is not clear whether DePape’s psychosis is a result of an underlying mental illness, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or from the long-term use of drugs, particularly meth, which can result in psychosis and permanent changes to brain functioning. Taub’s neighbors, as I reported yesterday, said Taub herself suffered frequent bouts of paranoid psychosis and had repeatedly lied about them to the police.
Many people responded to my reporting yesterday by noting that DePape may have been psychotic but that the real problem lay with right-wing conspiracy theories. “But even if you believe he's psychotic (which seems plausible),” wrote former New Yorker reporter James Surowiecki in response to my article, “why did his paranoid psychosis take as its object Nancy Pelosi? Because of the ubiquity of right-wing conspiracy theories and the demonization of Pelosi by right-wing media… We can certainly get rid of conspiracy theories being mainstreamed on cable TV and social media by high-profile pundits.”
But we can’t get rid of discussions of conspiracy theories because doing so would violate the First Amendment and, as I noted yesterday, psychotic people construct their delusions from whatever is in popular culture at the time to invent justifications for their actions. In 1981, a psychotic man named John Hinckley, Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan because, Hinckley said, he wanted to impress the actress Jodie Foster. Earlier this month, a man in Washington state shot two 40-something innkeepers because, he said, he heard the voice of Pope Gregory and John Paul say to him, “Are you going to let Bonny and Clyde do that to our family?”
And if mainstream news journalists are so concerned that political extremism is resulting in more violence against public officials, why did they, en masse, downplay the assassination attempt against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in June? Where The New York Times has put the alleged Pelosi assassination attempt on its front page for two days in a row, it buried the story of the Kavanaugh murder plot on page A20. Three days later, none of the Sunday morning political shows, such as NBC’s “Meet the Press,” even mentioned the assassination attempt.
Today, “Meet the Press,” focused on the Pelosi plot and framed it as overly political, making no mention whatsoever of DePape’s psychotic delusions. “The chilling and violent attack on Paul Pelosi — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 82-year-old husband — is raising fears of more political violence,” said its host, Chuck Todd.
The double standard in news media coverage is brought into sharper relief when one considers that the suspect in the murder plot against Kavanaugh, Nicholas John Roske, 26, has, unlike DePape, shown no sign of psychosis. Rather, he appears to be motivated by the same kind of political fanaticism that has gripped climate activists around the world.