After news broke Friday morning that Paul Pelosi was violently assaulted, Fox News wasted no time in pushing the GOP’s midterm message that crime is random and could strike at any moment — even for what turned out to be a targeted attack on the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
With scant public details on what exactly happened to Paul Pelosi, Fox News host Bill Hemmer said it was important to talk about how rampant crime is in general.
“Crime hits everybody,” Hemmer said, adding moments later, “This can happen anywhere, crime is random and that’s why it’s such a significant part of this election story.”
Fox News later brought on Michael Shellenberger, an author who claims progressivism is linked to drug addiction and mental illness. He said the attack on Paul Pelosi should be seen as “a wake-up call” that crime affects everybody.
“We are in a crime crisis in our country because we demoralize the police,” said Shellenberger, rattling off San Francisco crime statistics. “We have basically said to police that they are the enemy.”
Fox News host John Roberts chimed in, “This person isn’t protected against being assaulted, what are regular folks there in San Francisco to do?”
In yet another segment, a Fox News panelist wondered aloud why President Joe Biden condemned the attack against Paul Pelosi, which involved a hammer, but did not condemn “thousands” of other hammer attacks in the city.
This is precisely the political message that Republicans have settled on for the midterm elections. House GOP leaders routinelyaccuseDemocrats of driving up crime. Republicans have turned to crime fear-mongering to hold vulnerable Senate seats in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the GOP has abandoned any advertising on economic issues in favor of over-the-top and sometimes misleading ads about crime.
In the week of Sept. 10-17, a full 48% of the GOP’s digital advertising in battleground states dealt with crime, according to data compiled by Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.
Guy Cecil, the chair of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, told HuffPost last month that the GOP’s bid to generally scare people about crime is a tried and trusted strategy.
“This is not a new approach for the Republican Party,” Cecil said. “It happens every single election: race-baiting, fear-mongering, divisive tactics.”
The assault on Paul Pelosi is not an example of a random crime. A man broke into the Pelosi home in the middle of the night shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to reports. When the man discovered the House speaker was not there, he reportedly attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer, tried to tie him up and said he would wait “until Nancy got home.”
Law enforcement officials have identified the suspect in the attack as 42-year-old David DePape of Berkeley. Blog posts that appear to be from DePape suggest he underwent right-wing radicalization in recent months.
The House speaker has long been the subject of ire from the right and was targeted when a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), whose district includes part of San Francisco, appeared to suggest Friday morning that the attack may have come from a Trump supporter.
“While the motive is still unknown we know where this kind of violence is sanctioned and modeled,” Speier tweeted.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.