Leave it to Elon Musk to post a since-deleted tweet that contained misinformation about the attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband. And no surprise here: The conspiracy theory first appeared on the Santa Monica Observer — a fringe website dominated by right-wing conspiracies.
Musk has been on a tweeting storm this weekend. Since taking ownership of the company Thursday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO poked fun at people dressing up like fired Twitter employees and showing up outside the company's SF headquarters.
He professed his love for freshly baked pastries; he's reassured users of the social media website that comedy is back; he digitally chuckled at getting an autogenerated email from Twitter saying he needed to complete a management class within 30 days (which, frankly, couldn't hurt); he's reassured the Twitterverse that the good times will roll... whatever that entails.
But among his recent two dozen or so tweets was one that hawked an anti-LGBTQ conspiracy published by the Santa Monica Observer.
"There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” tweeted Musk in response to a tweet by Hillary Clinton about the attack, posting an attached link to a fictitious, anti-LGBTQ article published in the Santa Monica Observer. Before the tweet was deleted, it was retweeted more than 18,000 times and liked more than 85,000 times. The article suggested that Paul Pelosi had been attacked by a male sex worker whom he had willingly let into the house.
As of publishing, the Santa Monica Observer remains down and unreachable.
To put the website's legitimacy and credibility into perspective: In 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Monica Observer was “notorious for publishing false news," and cited that the website once claimed, “that Hillary Clinton had died and that a body double had been sent to debate Donald Trump.”
The Chronicle noted the still-unaccessible article promoted by Musk was built on an audio recording of the dispatcher relaying information about the intruder from Paul Pelosi; the dispatcher was relaying that Paul Pelosi had “advised that his [intruder's] name is David and that he is a friend" — which was taken wildly out of context by right-wing commentators and the Santa Monica Observer.
Twitter has long grappled with the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and calls for violence on the website — all things that seem set up now to get worse on the website under Musk's ownership and intent to build a content moderation council with "widely diverse viewpoints."
Photo: Getty Images/Win McNamee