Fact Check: Video Does NOT Prove Nancy Pelosi Was Drunk When She Told A Story About A 'Magic Word -- Open Biden'

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Prove Nancy Pelosi Was Drunk When She Told A Story About A 'Magic Word -- Open Biden' Not Drunk

Was Nancy Pelosi drunk on vodka or "losing it" when she declared, "In order to open these doors, we do not say, 'Open Sesame.' We say 'Open Biden'"? No, that's not true: Pelosi staff and family members have publicly declared the House Speaker does not drink alcohol and no publicly available evidence disproves them. The claim, which provides no evidence the speaker had consumed alcohol, is based on a clip (14 seconds) of video of Pelosi introducing President Joe Biden at the 2021 House Democratic Issues Conference. Missing is the part of the introduction when she explained "Open Biden" refers to something her 4- and 5-year-old grandsons once said.

The claim originates in a post (archived here) published by a conservative activist on Facebook on March 6, 2021, under the title "Is Pelosi drunk in this clip? You watch and decide." It opened with Benny Johnson setting up what he is about to show. He says:

What's going on with Pelosi? Like, it's the middle of the day.
How many martinis have you consumed? How drunk are you?
Nancy Pelosi is losing it. Her brain is snapping.
You are watching Pelosi, who I think is 80 years old or very near there-
Nancy Pelosi, we can put her age right here. (On-screen text: Nancy Pelosi was born March 26 1940- Making her 78 years old.)
Nancy Pelosi is going crazy all right.
You have had a year of seeing the depths to which this lady will fall.

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

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Mar 8 16:48:03 2021 UTC)

Benny Johnson, a conservative media figure, is now chief creative officer of Turning Point USA, a 501(c)3 non-profit with over 1000 chapters across the country. The stated mission of Turning Point USA's activism chapters is to educate students about the importance of limited government, free markets and capitalism.

Johnson continues:

You started off with the ice cream freezer, OK? Showing in the middle of a pandemic when everyone was losing their job, Nancy Pelosi's $30,000 freezer full of $13 ice cream and her giggling weirdly about it. Then you go to the maskless hair salon appointment when all hair salons are closed down in California and then you have multiple times when Pelosi just starts snapping and now she's just literally losing her mind.

OK, I don't know exactly how much vodka Nancy Pelosi has consumed, but here is a clip that shows you it's a lot- watch this!

The 14-second clip at the 1 minute, 2 second mark of Johnson's video. begins with Pelosi saying:

In order to open these doors, we do not say "Open sesame," we say "Open Biden." That's our magic word.

That sentence is part of a story from 2013 that she told about her then-4- and 5-year-old grandsons, who were excited to have met Biden and then gone out for candy with their grandmother. To understand the story in its context, this embedded video begins at the point that Pelosi explains that her husband Paul thinks that she always ends up talking about her grandkids when she makes a speech:

False claims of Nancy Pelosi being involved in drunken incidents have surfaced several times, many driven by liberal troll Christopher Blair and the click-baiters who are punked into printing falsehoods when they plagiarize articles from Blair's network of satire websites, "America's Last Line of Defense."

On May 22, 2019 a digitally altered video of Pelosi, slowed down to make the speaker appear to be slurring her speech, was posted by a Facebook page called "Politics Watchdog." The virality of that manipulated video sparked a debate over what social media platforms should do about manipulated and "deepfake" videos and if they should be removed. Lead Stories published an analysis article about how fact-checking was effective in this case.

At the time of that controversy, Christine Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Pelosi, posted a tweet on May 23, 2019, which stated that, "#FactCheck: Madam Speaker doesn't even drink alcohol!"

Another deceptively altered video went viral a year later on August 1, 2020. This one was also slowed down to make it appear that her speech was slurred. The caption claimed that it showed the Speaker "blowed out of her mind."

Lead Stories reached out by email to Drew Hammill, the deputy chief of staff to Pelosi for a statement. He confirmed:

The Speaker does not drink alcohol.

While this clip does not appear to be digitally altered, presenting only the 14-second clip of Pelosi telling the story of something her grandsons said leaves out context that makes it make sense.

Lead Stories has been unable to find credible and publicly available evidence that would contradict Hammill's declaration that his boss does not drink alcohol.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Southeastern Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


 

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