Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) proclaimed that those attending health care town hall meetings are “carrying swastikas.” You can watch her say it below:
Interviewer: Do you think there’s legitimate grassroot opposition going on here?
Pelosi: “I think they’re Astroturf… You be the judge. “They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare.”
If one were to take her at her word, surely the Nutroots (Netroots) would have been all over this story and can corroborate her assertion, right?
I ventured into the fever swamp to find confirmation of the Speaker’s allegations. I went to the largest community sites searching for “Swastika.” Surely that would turn up confirmation of the Speaker’s claim.
Here’s what I found…
[Note: Links are to search results that will change over time. Anything dated after 8/5/09 is an after the fact post or comment that would, in effect, be Astroturfing for Pelosi’s statement.]
Daily Kos (Stories and Diaries) – 2 results, 1 related. The related report (about defending liberal turf on health care) contains no report of health care protest attendees wearing swastikas. Verdict: No corroboration
Think Progress – 1 result dated back to 2008, unrelated. Verdict: No corroboration
Firedoglake – 3 results, none related. Verdict: No corroboration
Google Blog Search – None related, one post calling B.S., and there was this from a recent Austin, Minnesota immigration reform debate, where an actual member of the Socialist Party is said to have worn a t-shirt with a swastika. Verdict: No corroboration
But finally, the comment sewer at Daily Kos did reap a reward…
Daily Kos Comment Search – Mostly non-related, but there is one comment which appears to be the source of Pelosi’s contention. Here we find the one and only reference to someone (a kid) supposedly wearing a swastika to an event in Austin two weeks ago. Verdict: Possible source
The Daily Kos comment and the Burnt Orange Report comment are ostensibly about the same event but one person supposedly saw a kid with a swastika and another saw a sign. The Burnt Orange Report post indicates that there were only 40 or so protestors. The Burnt Orange Report comment indicates that there was media covering the event, yet none of the media noticed the swastikas? Seems pretty unlikely. More likely the two commenters were embellishing for a crowd (the other commenters) who were all too happy to believe whatever they said.
Aparently comment sections liberal blogs is where the Speaker of the House, number three in line to the Presidency, gets her information.
Update: Adrian points out the video here. I made a screen cap…
Verdict: Not Swastikas, Still Bullshit
Update 2: Let’s be clear, I’m not naive enough to suggest that that it’s not possible that somewhere a swastika was displayed on one of the tens of thousands of signs that have been carried. Speaker Pelosi made is sound like it was common, and I showed that prior to her statement not only was it not common, there was no evidence to back up her claim.
Today, over a day later, Sam Stein at The Huffington Post gets sent a thumbnail showing a female with a sign containing a swastika.
His interpretation of the sign is a little odd, it seems pretty clear that the crude message of the sign means, “no nazism” or “no socialism,” and the “? Obama” subheading wonders whether Obama supports socialism or nazism. Honestly it’s a pretty weak poster.
I did a little more digging and found over 130 high resolution photos of the event in this gallery. I looked through all 133 pictures with a fine tooth comb for the lady with the sign that someone sent to Sam Stein. I found the right where she should be…
Guess who is missing, from these and every one of the other 133 pictures?
The lady with the swastika sign…
Update 3: Read the follow-up piece which wrapps things up. The lady with the swastika sign has been found in the 133 picutures, but there’s much more to the story.