Trump returns to his sexist playbook in desperate smear against Pelosi

The attacks echo Trump's previous sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Trump had prepared graphics for his press conference after refusing to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Trump had prepared graphics for his press conference after refusing to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, who is incapable of pronouncing the word “origins,” is encouraging his followers to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with sexist and ageist smears.

The tactic is remarkably similar to the one Trump used against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. During that election, Trump maligned his presidential rival by questioning her mental wellbeing, her physical health and her age, and dubbed her a “nasty woman” who couldn’t “satisfy her husband.”

Trump’s attacks on Pelosi carry the same sexist undertones.

The doctored video

After Trump said Thursday that “crazy Nancy is losing it,” calling her “a mess,” a video went viral among conservatives allegedly showing Pelosi slurring her words as she spoke during an appearance at Wednesday’s Center for American Progress Ideas Conference. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news organization housed within the Center for American Progress.)


The video, however, had been slowed to about 75 percent of its original speed, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Among those who shared the doctored video was Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who tweeted, “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.” Giuliani deleted the tweet, but he did not correct it nor apologize for it. Friday morning, however, he issued a bizarre tweet filled with spelling and syntactical errors, in which he seemed to suggest that the video he had tweeted was a “caricature,” before demanding that Pelosi apologize for claiming Trump needs an “intervention.”

It was accompanied by an inexplicable GIF of basketball players from the Atlanta Hawks.

A half hour later, Giuliani issued a corrected tweet — with no GIF — clarifying his intention not to apologize. He did not delete the first tweet.

The doctored video is eerily similar to another doctored video that the White House actually used to try to justify stripping CNN’s Jim Acosta of his press credentials. That video, first distributed by Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars, used sped-up footage to make it look like Acosta had struck an aide who was trying to take a microphone away from him, despite the original clip proving he had not.

The selectively edited video

Separately, Fox Business ran a highly edited supercut of a different Pelosi appearance Thursday, attempting to hone in on a handful of moments where she was supposedly “stammering.” After playing the supercut, host Gregg Jarrett also referred to the doctored video and claimed she could not put a sentence together. Thursday night, Trump tweeted Jarrett’s statement and video of the edited clip:

The full video of Pelosi’s remarks — 15 minutes of taking questions from the press — shows that she was perfectly articulate throughout.


Pelosi’s daughter, Christine Pelosi, called the implication that her mother was drunk “despicable,” noting that the Speaker doesn’t drink alcohol.

The ‘maid’ smear

In addition to the two videos, Trump’s senior counselor Kellyanne Conway tried to launch her own smear of Pelosi as an elitist and bad feminist. On Wednesday, Trump staged a meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to discuss an infrastructure deal, only to abandon the meeting and give a press conference attacking congressional Democrats (complete with prepared visuals) afterward. After he left the room, Conway claimed she asked Pelosi if she wanted to address any of Trump’s concerns, but Pelosi allegedly replied, “I talk to the president, I don’t talk to staff.”

This, Conway said, is emblematic of how Pelosi is “the sixth-most rich member of Congress” and thus “treats everybody like they’re her staff,” despite presenting no evidence to support this accusation.

“She treats me like I’m either her maid or her driver or her pilot or her makeup artist and I’m not,” Conway complained. “I said to her, ‘How very pro-woman of you.’ Per usual, because she is not very pro-woman. She is pro-some-women, a few women.”

Conway has often tried assume the mantle of feminism. Her willingness to work for Trump despite her husband’s objections, she said earlier this year, speaks to her ability to be an “independent thinker,” she claimed. She has previously said she disagrees with traditional definitions of feminism.

History repeats itself

The new wave of attacks resemble similar attacks made on Hillary Clinton over both her health and her demeanor. Incidentally, Giuliani was one of the driving forces behind that conspiracy as well.


During the summer of 2016, Trump and his supporters were repeatedly spinning up the myth that Clinton wasn’t healthy. “She doesn’t have the stamina,” Trump repeatedly claimed. Conservatives inflated the conspiracy theory with obsessions about Clinton being “propped up on pillows,” getting helped up stairs, sitting on stools, and even having Parkinson’s disease (which she doesn’t). Fox News’ Sean Hannity even launched a week-long “investigation” into her health, suggesting she was brain-damaged.

Giuliani insisted that Trump had more stamina than Clinton, “who’s got to take three days off and one day on and seems to be sitting in a chair most of the time.” During media appearances, he would often rant that the media was not paying enough attention to the myth. “Go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness’ and take a look at the videos yourself,” he said, when confronted with the fact Clinton’s own doctors had debunked the conspiracy.

Just like Conway’s portrayal of Pelosi as condescending, the Trump campaign similarly smeared Clinton as elitist. After she described some of his supporters as a “basket of deplorables” for holding racist and sexist views, Trump responded, “She divides people into baskets as though they were objects, not human beings.” The National Review even published a video claiming Clinton had been so rude and vulgar to her security detail that the crew of Marine One nicknamed it “Broomstick One.”

The Trump administration’s repeated smears of Pelosi follow increasingly incendiary rhetoric from the House speaker, regarding the president. In recent days, Pelosi has said Trump is engaged in a cover-up, agreed that he has engaged in obstruction, described him as “villainous,” and has promised to pray for him. While the House has been quite productive in passing legislation, it was Trump who insisted he won’t work with congressional Democrats whatsoever until they stop investigating him. Despite all this, Pelosi still opposes pursuing impeachment.