Fact Check: This Is NOT A Real Letter From Nancy Pelosi's Office

Fact Check

  • by: Victoria Eavis
Fact Check: This Is NOT A Real Letter From Nancy Pelosi's Office Fake Letter

Did Nancy Pelosi send an official letter urging Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland to go by the "Democratic play book" when dealing with protests and protest-related violence in his city? No, that's not true: Secretarial correspondence code indicates this is a doctored digital copy of an unrelated letter. Neither Speaker Pelosi nor her office sent a letter containing the contents posted online to Mayor Wheeler. "Mayor Wheeler has never received this specific letter or anything similar from Speaker Pelosi," said Timothy Becker, the public information officer for Mayor Wheeler's office.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) where it was published on January 10, 2021. "SHE INSTRUCTED PORTLAND MAYOR TED WHEELER: "WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE AND YOU NO LONG CAN KEEP ANY ORDER, THEN GO TO THE CAMERA BLAME TRUMP, AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT TO ANYBODY BREAKING THE LAW. THIS IS THE POLITICAL GOLD!!" OH YEAH! HOW WONDERFUL," the caption on the post read in part. The fake letter opened:

Dear Mr. Wheeler,
I have seen your response to the riots in your city and I am urging you to stick to the proven Democratic Play book. I would like to review this with you now.
1: Deny there is a Problem, (Press will support this)
2: Refer to everything as peaceful and calm, (Press will help here also)
3: When all hell breaks loose, go on camera and show your support for anybody breaking the law. (Press will praise you for this, you will be a new hero, trust me).
4: When you can no longer keep any 0rder "BLAME TRUMP!" (I cannot over emphasize #4, This has worked every time we have used it and again the Press has told me they will support and fact check any claim we make!! THIS IS POLITICAL GOLD!!)

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jan 11 15:02:57 2021 UTC)

Simple image analysis shows how the doctored letter was pasted together to look official.

A journalist and Twitter user, @BrendanKeefe, first showed where the letter was pasted together in this tweet:

Keefe matched also the lower-right-hand internal office tracking code to a Pelosi letter that had been offered for sale online to autograph/letter collectors.

To test Keefe's method, Lead Stories took a screenshot of the image to see if the result could be replicated. The unaltered screenshot of the image looks like this:

Screenshot (154).png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken Mon Jan 11 16:57 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories used the standard Windows screenshot tool to adjust the "light" setting, revealing what looks like evidence that the image is a composite of pieces cut and pasted onto a new image. Here is that light-adjusted version of the image:

Pelosi highlight.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken Mon Jan 11 16:57 2021 UTC)

Portland, Oregon, has become a calling-card for those on the right when criticizing Democratic-run cities and their responses to the racial equality and police brutality protests over summer 2020. Portland's newspaper, The Oregonian/PortlandLive.com, has documented that across 100 days of protests, there were at least 675 arrests, "immeasurable amounts of tear gas and countless injuries" in addition to hundreds of fires around the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. Police declared a riot almost every third day. The points outlined in the letter match frequent criticisms and conspiracies people on the right push about Democratic politicians and the media.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Victoria Eavis

Victoria Eavis is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She recently graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. In her last few months at Duke, she was a reporter for a student news site, The 9th Street Journal, that covers the city of Durham, North Carolina. 

Read more about or contact Victoria Eavis

Different viewpoints

Note: if reading this fact check makes you want to contact us to complain about bias, please check out our Red feed first.

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion