Fact check: False claim that Pelosi drunk in 2016 photo with Obama
The claim: Viral image is a 'drunken photo' of Nancy Pelosi
Social media users are sharing a viral image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and then-President Barack Obama claiming the speaker was intoxicated in the photo.
"Oh that 'Crazy Nancy' This needs to go viral! I'm very sure she doesn't want this drunken photo out there of her," reads the text on top of the image.
The post has been shared over 43,000 times and has over 600 reactions.
USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.
Pelosi has long been targeted by altered posts designed to make her appear drunk – posts that have been repeatedly debunked by multiple fact-checking organizations, including USA TODAY.
Contacted by USA TODAY, a spokesman for Pelosi said the claim is false and confirmed that the leading Democrat does not drink.
Fact check:Video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi altered, selectively edited
Image is authentic
A reverse Google image search reveals that the photo in the latest viral image was taken on Sept. 30, 2016, by Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque.
"U.S. President Barack Obama kisses House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi upon their return from Israel to Joint Base Andrews in Washington," reads the caption of the image, which can be viewed on Adobe Stock.
Obama and a delegation of American senators had traveled to Israel for a state funeral to pay respects to former Israeli president Shimon Peres, The Times of Israel reported.
Also in attendance were then-Secretary of State John Kerry and then-national security adviser Susan Rice.
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History of false 'drunk' allegations
In August, USA TODAY debunked a viral video that was selectively edited and slowed in an attempt to make Pelosi appear drunk.
A photo of Pelosi walking out of a store in Connecticut from a 2016 blog post also went viral, claiming she was escorted out of a restaurant drunk, and was debunked by PolitiFact in February.
Drew Hamill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said in an email that the claim is false and confirmed that the House speaker does not drink.
Christine Pelosi, her daughter, has also previously taken to Twitter to state that Pelosi does not drink.
"Republicans and their conservative allies have been pumping this despicable fake meme for years! Now they are caught," Pelosi's daughter tweeted in 2019 after another altered video of Pelosi slurring her words went viral. "#FactCheck: Madam Speaker doesn’t even drink alcohol!"
Ethan Porter, assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, told PolitiFact in August that "Portraying women as ‘unstable’ and somehow ‘unfit’ for leadership has a long, ugly pedigree."
"These false claims advance those stereotypes; that these false claims are shared today indicate that the appetite for those stereotypes has not gone away," he said.
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Our rating: False
We rate this claim FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. While the image is authentic, there is no evidence that the House speaker was drunk in the photo. A spokesman for Pelosi said the claim is false and confirmed she does not drink. Pelosi has a history of being a target of manipulated media attempting to make her appear intoxicated, with several past such claims already debunked by USA TODAY and other fact-checking organizations.
Our fact-check sources:
- Adobe Stock, Sept. 30, 2016, Obama and Pelosi arrive in Washington
- Times of Israel, Sept. 30, 2016, Obama takes off for Peres funeral leading 33-strong US delegation
- USA TODAY, Aug. 11, Fact check: Video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi altered, selectively edited
- PolitiFact, Feb. 29, No, Nancy Pelosi was not escorted out of a restaurant drunk
- Christine Pelosi, May 23, 2019, tweet
- Snopes, Aug. 11, 2019, Is Nancy Pelosi in Critical Condition After a Head-On Drunk Driving Accident?
- Pelosi Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hamill, email to USA TODAY
- Lead Stories, Oct. 11, Fact Check: Photo Of President Obama Kissing Nancy Pelosi Is Not A 'Drunken Photo'
- FactCheck.org, May 24, 2019, Manipulated Video Targeting Pelosi Goes Viral
- Snopes, Aug. 11, 2017, Is Nancy Pelosi in Critical Condition After a Head-On Drunk Driving Accident?
- PolitiFact, May 24, 2019, Viral video of Nancy Pelosi slowed down her speech
- PolitiFact, Aug. 3, Why false claims about Nancy Pelosi being drunk keep going viral — even though she doesn’t drink
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