The man identified by the Daily Beast as the creator of a viral video that was edited to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear to be drunk has denied creating and uploading the video.
Shawn Brooks, a black forklift operator from the Bronx, is an administrator on the Facebook page “Politics Watchdog,” to which the video was first uploaded before it received widespread media coverage thanks to its symbolism as a piece of viral fake news.
Brooks claimed in an interview with the Daily Beast and a subsequent Facebook post that another administrator created and uploaded the video.
The Daily Beast pushed back on Brooks’ claim by citing a Facebook employee who told the outlet that the page’s other administrators were fake accounts which had to be deleted because they were all operated by Brooks. In response, Brooks posted a screenshot to Facebook early Sunday morning that appeared to show a number of other active administrators.
Brooks, who is on probation for domestic battery, accused the Daily Beast of making him the “fall guy” for the video due to his “background.”
Brooks told the Daily Beast that he turned to political conservatism after losing his job working in a warehouse because his employer began hiring illegal immigrants.
“I was working there four or five years and I was being paid pretty well,” he said. “And then they started bringing these guys in vans through the side door. This was going on for months. Then all of a sudden they told me, ‘We can’t pay you anymore.’”
Brooks has since taken issue with a number of details included in the story, including the claim that he made $1,000 in ad revenue from the video before it was demonetized.
I never said I made 1000 dollars. That’s a lie. This guy just made up a bunch of shit and added my past history (which isn’t all true) and have convinced you all that everything he wrote was true. Bottomline is I never made the video. I shared it just like thousands of other ppl
— Shawn (@sportsgurufsr) June 2, 2019
Journalists and pundits from across the political spectrum denounced the Daily Beast for publicly identifying Brooks, a private citizen. The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein defended the decision to identify Brooks by citing the video’s far-reaching implications for the debate surrounding tech censorship.
Can’t believe some people don’t think it’s news to discover the actual identity of the guy behind the doctored Pelosi video. It’s not just that he runs partisan news site+ posted the video to make money. It’s that this story shows disinformation isn’t the purview of Russia alone
— Sam Stein (@samstein) June 2, 2019