Manipulated Photo Of Nancy Pelosi Shared To Portray Her As Drunk

The original image was cropped and zoomed in on to present an unflattering narrative
Posts on Facebook use a photo of former president Barack Obama kissing Nancy Pelosi to support the claim that the House Democratic leader is a drunk. This is false; the original image -- which shows the pair arriving back in the US after official business in 2016, the photographer said -- was cropped and zoomed in on to present an unflattering narrative, while her office said she does not generally drink alcohol.


"Oh that 'Crazy Nancy'" reads text accompanying a photo of Pelosi shared on Facebook on October 8, 2020. "I'm very sure she doesn't want this drunken photo out there of her."

The photo itself shows Obama leaning in from behind Pelosi before kissing her on the cheek. The congresswoman's unwieldy hair and reddish face, combined with the night's darkness and other people nearby, makes the closeup of the two politicians' faces look like it could have been taken during a party.


Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on October 12, 2020

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However, the photo used in posts was cropped and stripped of its original context.

A Google reverse image search leads to an article from The Daily Caller featuring the same cropped version of the photo, credited to photographer Kevin Lamarque of Reuters.

Searching for "Barack Obama Nancy Pelosi Kevin Lamarque Reuters" on Google reveals the original photo on the news agency's website.

Its original caption reads "U.S. President Barack Obama kisses House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi upon their return from Israel to Joint Base Andrews in Washington," and is dated September 30, 2016.


Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on October 12, 2020

Obama, Pelosi, and an entire US delegation were returning from an official visit to Israel, where they had attended the state funeral of former president Shimon Peres.

"There is nothing to it," the photographer Lamarque told AFP in an email, confirming the trip but dismissing the claim that Pelosi was out of control.

"He is not kissing a drunk Nancy Pelosi at a party," he said. "The wind was probably howling, like always on the airstrip, and one would usually look a bit disheveled after such a long journey!"

The original uncropped photo shows someone holding the handle of a travel suitcase in front of Obama and Pelosi, while the Speaker holds what appears to be a garment bag. A man who appears to be then-secretary of state John Kerry was also pictured, looking on from behind.

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A recurring false claim

Pelosi has been the target of similar attacks in recent years. In 2010, the Republican Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann falsely accused Pelosi of "sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she's flying."

Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said that the she "doesn't drink" alcohol in general. "This is false," he said of the recent claims that she was drunk.

His statement echoes another from Pelosi's daughter Christine, who spoke up on Twitter in May 2019 after a doctored video making her mother appear drunk circulated on social media. Pelosi appeared to be slurring her words, but the video had in fact been slowed down to create such an effect, AFP Fact Check reported at the time.

Other debunked instances of people attempting to portray Pelosi as inebriated include a 2017 claim that the politician was injured while driving drunk, a 2020 claim that she was removed from the House after cursing at Republicans while drunk, and more, Poynter reported.

Unfortunately, false claims persist.

Claire Wardle, the US director of First Draft, an organization that monitors disinformation, told Poynter that the danger of further claims is that repetition can trick the human brain into thinking such information is legitimate, even when each individual allegation is false.

"If you've read something before you're more likely to consider it as true," she said.

This latest round of false posts attempt to give credence to the nickname "Crazy Nancy," which President Donald Trump and his supporters have used to disparage the California lawmaker, in the same way that he calls presidential candidate Joe Biden "Sleepy Joe."

Updated On: 2020-10-16T12:41:27+05:30
Claim Review :   Photo shows Nancy Pelosi is a drunk.
Claimed By :  Facebook posts
Fact Check :  False
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