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Once upon a time, the man who assaulted Nancy Pelosi’s husband might have blamed the Devil for his crime. But since we no longer believe in the Devil, Blaze Media’s co-founder will suffice.
David DePape, the deranged Bay Area man who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco mansion last year and fractured the skull of her husband, Paul, with a claw hammer, was found guilty Thursday of attempted kidnapping and assault “on account of a federal official’s performance of official duties.” He faces up to 50 years in federal prison.
That seems a fitting outcome to a bizarre case that could have ended much worse for the victim. And who really knows what DePape would have done if his intended target, who was still speaker of the House at the time, had been at home?
It was a strange story, made all the more confusing by wild online conjecture early on about DePape’s motives and his possible relationship with Pelosi. (He had none; the two men did not know each other.)
Around 2 a.m. on October 28, 2022, DePape smashed a window to enter Pelosi’s Pacific Heights mansion. He had zip ties and rope with him. DePape awoke the sleeping Paul Pelosi, demanding, “Where’s Nancy?” Pelosi replied that she was in Washington, D.C. Undeterred, DePape told Pelosi he would tie him up until she arrived. For whatever reason, he didn’t.
DePape testified last week that he planned to compel Pelosi and other politicians, including U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), to “admit to their corruption” and then have Joe Biden pardon them all.
“It’s just easier giving them a pardon so we can move forward as a country,” DePape tearfully told the court.
Sounds like a brilliant scheme of a criminal mastermind, doesn’t it?
Paul Pelosi told the court that he remained calm and managed to call 911. When police arrived, things got even weirder. Pelosi greeted the officers at the door in his underwear, which fueled some silly speculation that the men were having a tryst. Soon after officers entered the house, DePape began beating Pelosi with the hammer, leaving him with a cracked skull and injuries to his right arm and both hands.
In the days following the attack, the press scrambled to figure out just who the assailant was.
DePape’s background was strange. He lived in a garage and on a broken-down bus. He had been a Green Party member and “pro-nudity activist.” A former girlfriend told the San Francisco Chronicle days after the attack that “that mental illness and drug use had caused [DePape] to deteriorate so profoundly that he ... grew convinced ... ‘he was Jesus for a year.’”
DePape “is a broken child in an adult body with serious mental problems,” Oxane “Gypsy” Taub told the paper.
When DePape took the stand in his own defense last week, he broke down in tears as he attempted to explain his motivations, saying he was “fueled by conspiracy theories and right-wing media,” CBS News Bay Area reported.
DePape told the court he “mainly watched YouTube videos and listened to podcasts from the likes of Tim Pool, Glenn Beck, and conservative media outlets,” according to the CBS News story. “He described his worldview as taking up a battle against a sinister cabal of government officials, celebrities, and pedophiles driving the country to ruin, echoing baseless Q-Anon diatribes.”
Oh, boy. Here we go again.
Over the years, criminal defendants have mounted all manner of novel defenses and offered elaborate excuses for their crimes, from “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” to “I hit her 41 times with an axe in self-defense.” That one actually worked!
In 1979, Dan White’s attorneys famously argued that the former San Francisco city councilman’s use of anti-depressants led him to binge on sweets, which contributed to his unraveled state of mind that led him to shoot and kill Mayor George Moscone and fellow council member Harvey Milk. This became known as “the Twinkie defense.” That one worked, too — to a point. The jury found White guilty on lesser charges of manslaughter, rather than first-degree murder, likely sparing him a death sentence.
Once upon a time, DePape might have said “the Devil made me do it.” But since we no longer believe in the Devil, Glenn Beck and the ever-present Protean scourge of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories” will more than suffice.
Blaze News readers know Beck has had a long and storied career in broadcasting and print. He’s a figure of controversy, sure. And he’s made some mistakes and had a few regrets over the years, which he has discussed candidly.
Reflecting on his time at Fox News, as far back as 2014 Beck told Megyn Kelly, “I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language. Because I think I played a role unfortunately in helping tear the country apart. And it’s not who we are.”
It’s fair to say that Beck has long since shifted his approach from the old divisiveness to something more conciliatory. But that hasn’t diminished his passion. In a 2018 broadcast, for example, he railed against Chris Cuomo and CNN for amplifying QAnon and purposefully dividing the country. Did DePape miss that one?
CNN peddles Bizarre Conspiracy Theorywww.youtube.com
The truth is that Beck frequently denounces violence and extremism of all kinds and offers ways to unite positively against those vices.
In March, following the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Beck told his audience, “It is natural for all of us to feel anger and fear during these times, and it may seem unnatural to rise above it. But we must. It's essential to remember that we have to come together as a society, together, and address the root causes of violence.”
“The seeds of division have been sown by those who seek to manipulate and exploit us for their own gain,” Beck said. “They shatter our trust in one another to instill fear and hatred where there should be understanding and compassion.”
Beck is not offering “conspiracy theories.” He is making arguments. Left-wing outlets such as the New Republic and the Guardian might not be able to tell the difference — or maybe they don’t expect their readers to know and see it. But it’s true.
It should go without saying, but since we live in exceptionally obtuse times, I need to say it anyway: Glenn Beck didn’t “radicalize” David DePape. He didn’t tell DePape to cross the Bay Bridge, break into the Pelosi mansion, and demand to know the whereabouts of the speaker of the House. He didn’t put the hammer in DePape’s hand.
For the record, here is what the man himself said about DePape a few days after the attack:
Know that he is supposedly a fan of mine. He is a nudist. I can see all the nudists just loving this program. He is a hippie. Love it. He lives in San Francisco. Love it. Black Lives Matter supporter. Love it. QAnon supporter. Hmmm. You don't get a lot of QAnon news from this program, do you?
He also apparently loved Pizzagate. You mean the thing that I said from the beginning was nonsense? Really, that thing?
He was also — and if you listen to this program, you can see why he was a fan — he hated Jews. Interesting that he’d be a fan of the one who won the Defender of Israel award. Really strange because I’ve been talking about anti-Semitism on the rise for more than 20 years ...
He also said that equity was the dog whistle for the genocide of the white race. That’s also something we took on recently and said was absolutely ridiculous. ... You can see we had a lot in common. That doesn't make sense, does it?
What does make sense is that David DePape is a profoundly disturbed man who has spent much of his adult life on drugs and struggling with mental illness. He dwelled in the fever swamps of the Bay Area left until he drifted into the fever swamps of the very online QAnon right.
Taub, the ex-girlfriend, may have come closest to putting her finger on what accounts for DePape’s worldview in her interview with the Chronicle.
“He was against the government,” Taub said by phone from the California Institution for Women in Riverside County, where she was serving time “on an unrelated charge.”
“But if anything, he was opposed to the shadow government, against the people who really run the government and use politicians as puppets. Like Trump was a puppet. David and I were against the shadow government.”
That might help explain a thing or two about DePape’s addled thinking. But it doesn’t excuse what DePape did. Happily, his Glenn Beck deflection didn’t work and he will likely be going to prison for a long time. Maybe there he can get some of the help — and the clarity — he so desperately needs.
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Editor, Opinion & Analysis
Ben Boychuk is the opinion and analysis editor for Blaze News.