Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, tweets unfounded conspiracy theory about Paul Pelosi attack
SpaceX Chief Engineer Elon Musk gestures during a joint news conference with T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert (not pictured) at the SpaceX Starbase, in Brownsville, Texas, August 25, 2022.
Adrees Latif | Reuters
Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, tweeted out an unfounded conspiracy theory Sunday morning about the attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from a website that has a history of publishing false information.
Musk responded to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she tweeted out an L.A. Times story about how the suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi, David DePape, spread far-right conspiracy theories.
“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” Musk wrote to Clinton, linking to a story published on a right-wing website called the Santa Monica Observer that questioned the circumstances of the attack on Pelosi, according to an archived version of the story. (The website was no longer accessible late Sunday morning.)
As of late Sunday morning, Musk’s tweet had more than 24,000 retweets and more than 86,000 likes, and was quickly gaining more traction.
The fact-checking website Media Bias/Fact Check rates the Santa Monica Observer as a “questionable source” based on “the routine publication of false and misleading information and the use of poor sources.”
Media Bias/Fact Check said the website’s article on the Pelosi attack “appears to be fake and defamatory.”
Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
The Santa Monica Observer has also published other fake stories that falsely reported that former Secretary Clinton died in the September 11, 2001 attacks and had been using a body double since then, and that Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, was appointed to a non-existent position in the Department of the Interior under former President Donald Trump.
The publisher of the website, David Ganezer, unsuccessfully ran for Santa Monica City Council in 2010 and 1988, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. He is currently a registered Republican, voting records show.
Musk’s tweet comes just days after his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter was finalized. Musk has said he will loosen rules about what kind of speech is allowed on the platform. That vow has prompted concerns that the changes could drive users and advertisers from the site.
DePape attacked Pelosi, 82, with a hammer after breaking into their California home early Friday. The suspect was searching for the House speaker, who was in Washington, D.C. at the time, two sources told NBC News.
Police arrived after Pelosi called 911 when the suspect wasn’t looking.
Pelosi suffered a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, according to Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He underwent successful surgery and is expected to make a full recovery, Hammill added Friday.
Police said DePape will be charged with attempted homicide, among other charges. Officials have said they are still working to determine a motive in the attack