Nancy Pelosi and the ‘Wrap-Up Smear’

An October 2018 Turning Point USA Facebook video featured a brief clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking, purportedly explaining the manner in which Democrats use a “wrap up smear” tactic against Republicans.

At the time the clip appeared, controversy was raging over the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. All-caps text at the top of the video read “PELOSI EXPLAINS THE LEFT’S ANTI-KAVANAUGH STRATEGY”:

Pelosi’s words appeared at the bottom of the screen, and viewers were led to believe that her remarks were made in specific reference to a strategy employed by Democrats to sabotage Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. In the clip, Pelosi appeared to say:

You demonize — we call it the wrap-up smear. You want to talk about politics? It’s a wrap-up smear. You smear somebody with a falsehood and then you merchandise it, and then you write it and they’ll say, “see, it’s reported in the press that this, this and this,” so they have that validation that the press reported the smear and then it’s called a “wrap-up smear.” Now i am going to merchandise the press’ report on the smear that we made. It’s a tactic.

A YouTube version of the same brief commentary by Pelosi was also uploaded in October 2018, and continues to circulate. However, that iteration did not attempt to claim that Pelosi was targeting Kavanaugh in her remarks, and it was dated well before the Supreme Court appointment controversy — June 22 2017:

A longer version of Pelosi’s remarks was freely available online. In it, she clearly is claiming that Republicans, not Democrats, use the “wrap up smear” tactic to avoid discussing policy. The relevant portion begins about 30 seconds into the longer clip, and the out-of-context excerpt begins just before the one-minute mark.

An even longer clip from which Pelosi’s “wrap up smear” remarks were taken was available on C-SPAN’s website, along with a transcript compiled from close captioning. The entirety of the relevant portion was at the end of the complete clip, and once again the transcript indicated Pelosi that was accusing Republicans of using “wrap up smear” tactics, not admitting she or her fellow Democrats engaged in them. The clip as presented by Turning Point USA and others was deliberately taken out of context to elide Pelosi’s intent, making this a particularly meta story.