Just hours after having multiple senior aides vouch for his calm state of mind after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of a temper tantrum, President Trump took to Twitter late Thursday to push an edited video of the top Democrat supposedly “stammering” through a news conference, jumping on a conspiracy-theory bandwagon that had been raging on social media throughout the day.
The video, which was first aired by the Fox Business Network and appeared to have been cleverly edited to make Pelosi's speech seem impaired, came after several doctored videos purporting to show a “drunk” Pelosi slurring her words spread like wildfire on social media, all while Trump tried to convince the public that Pelosi was not to be taken seriously because she is “crazy” and “a mess.”
Even Fox News reported that the videos were doctored, but that didn't stop Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani from tweeting out a link to one of the already debunked videos late Thursday.
“What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi?” Giuliani wrote. “Her speech pattern is bizarre.” He later deleted the tweet, but the flames of the “Pelosi-can-barely-string-a-sentence-together, she-must-be-senile-or-drunk” hoax that apparently originated among Trump supporters had already been fanned, and Fox, predictably, was to thank for keeping the whole thing going.
Frequent Fox Business guest Ed Rollins on Thursday backed up the president’s earlier assertion that Pelosi is a “mess,” citing the edited video as evidence that the speaker is inarticulate and therefore unwell. Prior to Rollins’ remarks, guest host Gregg Jarrett had played a highly edited and manipulated clip of Pelosi speaking earlier in the day that made it appear that she stammered and struggled through a press conference.
Notably, the clip repeatedly replays Pelosi saying the number three while holding up two fingers, something Jarrett mocked immediately afterward.
Fox issued a statement after the segment defending the video.
“The FOX Business segment featuring clips from Speaker Pelosi’s speech today did not slow down any aspect of her address,” the network said.
Meanwhile, Rollins and Jarrett weren’t the only ones implying that Pelosi didn’t have all her mental faculties during Thursday’s Lou Dobbs Tonight broadcast. Pugnacious former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski seemingly referenced the doctored videos while criticizing Pelosi’s remarks about Trump’s current mental fitness.
“Can you imagine, for one second if that was a Republican questioning Nancy Pelosi's mental fitness?” Lewandowski exclaimed. “The way she slurs and repeats herself. They would be called racist, misogynist, xenophobic and every other word possible.”
Trump quickly fed Fox's claims back out to the Twitterverse, seizing on the network's coverage to lend some legitimacy to the whole thing. “Nancy Pelosi should not be out there doing the kinds of things she is doing,” the president tweeted, quoting Rollins. “She will diminish herself and her membership. She cannot put a subject with a predicate in the same sentence. What’s going on?”
Trump captioned the tweeted video: “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE.”
During the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Trump and his allies relentlessly peddled unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's mental and physical health. Those theories only gained more steam after she nearly passed out at a 9/11 memorial from what was later diagnosed as walking pneumonia.