The Daily Beast published an article Sunday identifying a Bronx man that they claim is the ultimate culprit behind a viral video that appears to show Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) slurring through a series of speeches.
The shocking article identifies the man by name, calling him a “day laborer, sports blogger, and Trump superfan from the Bronx,” who is also “on probation for domestic battery,” though it’s not clear at all how any of those descriptors relate to his alleged involvement in creating or disseminating the viral video.
What is clear is that The Daily Beast and author Kevin Poulson are very proud that they managed to identify the civilian politico who edited several clips of Pelosi stumbling over words and struggling to find vocabulary, and are treating the matter as if they’ve uncovered a major scoop, rather than ruined a man’s life over a single social media post they found distasteful.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) June 1, 2019
The Daily Beast tracked the video back to a blue collar forklift driver named Shawn Brooks, who apparently posted a series of Pelosi videos in jest — including one with the sound lowered so that Pelosi appeared less articulate than usual. The video was uploaded to several sharing sites and has been viewed, now, more than 4 million times. Left-leaning members of the media were apoplectic about the video last week, calling the video a “deep fake” and demanding that Facebook and other social media sites remove and censor the clip. Neither did.
The Daily Beast contacted Brooks, who agreed to an interview on the matter. In it, he admitted to contributing to two conservative news sites, Politics WatchDog and AllNews 24/7, but denied being the person who edited the Pelosi clip.
“I wasn’t the individual who created that Pelosi video,” he told the Beast.
In an odd turn of events, it appears Facebook itself, when contacted by The Daily Beast, confirmed that the video had been uploaded to Politcs WatchDog by Brook’s personal account — a strange action for the company, which has faced criticism in recent weeks over its treatment of conservatives as well as its lack of commitment to basic privacy.
Brooks allegedly told The Daily Beast that he made some advertising money (around $1,000) from the video, but later recanted that claim in a tweet accusing The Daily Beast of altering the content of the interview. Brooks also allegedly told DB that Facebook left the video up for at least 36 hours to reap some benefit from the attention it was getting, but Facebook denies that is the case.
But even as Brooks and The Daily Beast argue over the details of the interview, it seems clear that The Daily Beast went much further into Brooks’s online life in an effort to portray him as an avid crusader for President Donald Trump and a purveyor of “fake news,” perhaps in order to prove that Trump fans are as responsible for spreading false information as meddling Russians.
“A review of Brooks’ personal fan page reveals him as an avowed conservative and a proud member of Trump’s razor-thin African-American support base. A couple of Brooks’ Instagram posts feature misogyny,” the story reads. “The strongest example is a post last year featuring a photo he evidently snapped of a woman sitting next to him on the subway. ‘This dumb bitch sitting in front of me on the E-train continues to kick me without saying excuse me,’ he wrote.”
“An ardent New England Patriots fan,” the story continues, “Brooks has a long history of online ventures around athletics, including a Facebook page called Out Kick the Sports. Brooks’ sparse LinkedIn profile lists him as an ‘Analyst at Sports Blogger,’ a long-shuttered blog platform where Brooks once blogged under his current Twitter screen name, ‘SportsGurufsr.'”
None of Brooks’ conduct is against the law, and while the origins of the video may be important to heading off further “viral” “deep fakes,” the article continues to accuse Brooks of all manner of sin and dig up details of his life that are wholly irrelevant to the political landscape.
But regardless, the story was cheered on by many in the mainstream media who should be, instead, horrified.
“he had it coming!” cried the self-declared guardians of the republic. pic.twitter.com/DsD9iMku61
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) June 2, 2019
Brooks continues to deny that he edited the video.