Much like Pelosi’s past brushes with viral fame, it didn’t take long for the Thursday moment to spark an intense debate over interpretations of the Democratic leader’s actions. In the eyes of her supporters, Pelosi had just delivered a powerful rebuke of a reporter whose question reflected a common GOP attack meant to cast doubt on Democrats’ intentions for pursuing impeachment. But for critics, the outburst was another example of Pelosi coming “unhinged,” or as Trump has put it, having “a nervous fit.”
Q: "Do you hate the president?"@SpeakerPelosi: "I don't hate anybody…As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone…So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that."— CSPAN (@cspan) December 5, 2019
Full video: https://t.co/l9peY9RTzl pic.twitter.com/zpqUaCcVrS
In a tweet, Rosen defended his decision to ask the “simple, if pointed, question,” writing that Pelosi “erupted in fury.” Late Thursday, Sinclair Broadcast Group also issued a statement maintaining that “there was no disrespect meant to the Speaker by this question.”
“We have reviewed the incident and based on the video, this was clearly not meant to be an inflammatory question, and, further, this gave Speaker Pelosi the opportunity to clarify her own views, something that only strengthens positive dialogue,” said spokesperson Ronn Torossian, according to CNN’s Oliver Darcy.
Pelosi, however, did not take kindly to the question.
The 79-year-old was on her way out of the news conference when Rosen shouted, “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?”
Instead of ignoring Rosen, Pelosi immediately spun around and launched into “an extraordinary rebuttal” of a reporter she once referred to as “Mr. Republican Talking Points,” The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez reported.
“I don’t hate anybody,” Pelosi shot back, at times punctuating her remarks with scornful finger-wagging. She later added, “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love, and always pray for the president, and I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So, don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
Pelosi’s scorching response left CBS host James Corden in shock.
“Her microphone was attached to a podium, but honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she just picked up the entire podium and was like, ‘Don’t mess with me,’" Corden said, mimicking an emphatic mic drop.
Stephen Colbert also seized on the viral exchange, using it as inspiration for his CBS show’s cold open — an impeachment-themed song that includes the lyrics, “Speaker of the House is Nancy Pelosi. She’s as pant-suited as they come. If you violate the Constitution, she’s not a grandma you wanna cross.”
Colbert, who is also Catholic, later praised Pelosi’s comments as “well said” during his opening monologue.
“We Catholics don’t hate anyone, okay. We are not allowed to,” Colbert said. “That’s why we waged 11 crusades to remind those people how much we loved them."
He continued: “The Inquisition was just a tickle fight that got out of control.”
The host went on to express concern for Rosen.
“Nancy Pelosi prays for the president, and I pray for that reporter,” he said.
Social media was equally rife with commentary Thursday — marking the latest instance that the Internet has lost its mind over Pelosi’s defiant behavior. There was the red coat in December 2018, which was followed by her infamous State of the Union clap in February. More recently, she went viral after a photo showed her standing, largely surrounded by other men, and pointing at a seated Trump.
By early Friday, one clip of Pelosi telling off Rosen had been watched more than 2 million times. In contrast, a video of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) snapping at a journalist during a separate news conference after Pelosi’s had only about 400,000 views — and no viral hashtags.
“Nancy doesn’t drop microphones, she drops reporters,” one user tweeted.
“Every time I think the Speaker has lost a step, she brings out a long, elegant blade and absolutely eviscerates somebody,” another person wrote.
Nancy doesn't drop microphones, she drops reporters.— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) December 5, 2019
It didn’t take long for people to start parroting Pelosi’s words.
“DON’T MESS WITH MAMA!” Pelosi’s daughter Christine tweeted in all-caps.
Several viewers documented the exchange using GIFs.
But not everyone saw the moment as a win for Pelosi.
“Looks like the Democrats need an intervention and a long rehabilitation program,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a vocal Trump ally, tweeted.
Nunes’s assessment was echoed by fellow conservatives.
“I think things are starting to unravel,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Thursday, according to The Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis.
“Nancy Pelosi is UNHINGED this morning,” Steve Guest, the Republican National Committee’s rapid response director, tweeted.
Other critics slammed Pelosi for invoking her religious beliefs, calling attention to the speaker’s stance on abortion. “The church has their position, and we have ours, which is that a woman has free will given to her by God. My family is very pro-life,” Pelosi told the New York Times in 2015.
Nancy Pelosi uses her Catholic faith to convince us she doesn't hate anyone.— Jessie Jane Duff (@JessieJaneDuff) December 6, 2019
Meanwhile, she ignores her Catholic faith on abortion.
'They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.'~Titus 1:16 https://t.co/9hUkeryIyD
“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me,” Pelosi snapped today.— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) December 5, 2019
Just a reminder for the staunch Catholic @SpeakerPelosi that the Catholic Church teaches abortion is “a crime against human life.”
People close to the speaker hit back at those who appeared to “question her sincerity,” The Post’s Karen Tumulty wrote Thursday, citing a quote from Pelosi’s friend, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.).
“There are two pillars in her life, in terms of her beliefs: her Catholicism, a very deep faith, and her family,” Eshoo said, according to Tumulty. “This is the authentic Nancy.”
On Thursday, as the hashtag continued to gain steam and people advertised the “Don’t Mess With Nancy” sweatshirts, at least one person delivered a warning of her own about Pelosi.
“If you come for the queen, you best not miss,” she wrote.