| Some dare call it|
|What THEY don't want|
you to know!
| Guide to:|
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
The Pizzagate theory was initially promoted and popularized on the notorious Poe-nest 4chan and on Reddit. It spread quickly over various fake news websites, as well as via social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and culminated in an armed man, arguably acting on the suggestion of one Alex Jones, entering the
lion's den pizza parlor in question, rifle in hand, to "self-investigate" the claims in December 2016.
- 1 Origin and spread
- 2 (Mis)infographics
- 3 Lessons and conclusions
- 4 The aftermath
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
Origin and spread
The foundations of Pizzagate were laid by 4chan in Washington, D.C.,[Note 3] having seen occasional use as a venue for DNC fundraising events. Because life is random, the phrase "cheese pizza" happened to be an inside joke referring to child pornography on 4chan.[Note 4] Thus, users started to fabricate a conspiracy theory around the mention of this generic food item in the Podesta emails, soon speculating up a storm. Based on this diligent research, they quickly concluded that Podesta, Clinton and others were all part of a clandestine pedophile ring operating out of the innocent-looking pizza parlor. The conspira-trollery eventually flooded Reddit, where, on /r/The_Donald/, a redditor by the name of "DumbScribblyUnctious" collected all the dubious conspiracy theories into one giant screed titled "Comet Ping Pong — Pizzagate Summary".
For the simple reason that this inherently borders on actual absurdist comedy, the popularity of the Pizzagate manufactroversy increased exponentially, with theories about the supposed conspiracy quickly growing ridiculously complex and lengthy. Professional insanity dispenser Alex Jones fanned the flames by adding his own conspiratorial twist, posting an InfoWars bulletin titled Pizzagate Is Real: Something Is Going On, But What?, where he told viewers "You have to go investigate it for yourself", neglecting to factor in that his viewers might actually be impressionable enough to take his suggestions to heart.
Social media frenzy
As Pizzagate blew up on the internet, the hashtag #pizzagate began trending on Twitter. Comet Ping Pong suddenly gained a massive amount of followers on Instagram — along with numerous death threats.[Note 5] The conspiracy theory was actively spread on Twitter by a number of Trump supporters, a mob apparently still consumed by Trump's (later completely abandoned) "crooked Hillary" narrative, desperate for any scraps of controversy that could realize their wet dream — to "lock her up".[Note 6]
Meanwhile, in Turkey...
Turkish media outlets loyal to
sultan president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an responsibly decided to publish articles promoting the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Aside from the goal of generally stirring anti-American sentiment in Turkey, the stories were likely meant to deflect from a sexual abuse scandal implicating a charitable foundation with ties to Erdo?an's ruling party, and to distract from crackdowns on dissent after the attempted coup of July 2016.
“”Help me, [armed redneck listener]. You're my only hope.
As Pizzagate propagated across social media through various fake news outlets, with strategic command in charge of Hillary-bashing operations taking the hysteria to a new level, many people, lacking the apparent ability to tell fact from fiction, took the whole production for a real news story. One such misguided individual, a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina, named Edgar Maddison Welch, decided to respond to Alex Jones' impassioned pleas for
General Kenobi someone to take matters into their own hands and "personally investigate".
Like a modern-day fake news-fueled , Welch ominously stepped inside Comet Ping Pong on December 4, 2016 at around 3 p.m., when the parlor was packed with customers. And Welch hadn't come alone, either (making his entrance brandishing a loaded rifle), supposedly on a mission to "self-investigate" the Pizzagate conspiracy.[Note 7] Understandably, employees and diners alike made like a tree and left the scene. In a sense, Welch had successfully managed to drain that particular NWO swamp. According to his own post-arrest words, Welch "fired off some rounds". Thankfully (though oddly, perhaps battling some kind of Pizzergeist?), Welch only fired his gun once he was alone inside the pizza parlor. Soon thereafter, he was promptly arrested after surrendering to police. Welch later stated that:
“”I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way. I regret how I handled the situation.
I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.
At some point, the InfoWars apology was deleted from the website. Taking and bearing responsibility is too much effort.
In May 2019, an FBI memo from the Phoenix Field Office designated several political conspiracy theories (QAnon, Pizzagate, HAARP, New World Order, Sandy Hook massacre) as domestic threats with the potential to incite violence. As evidence, the FBI cited arrests for criminal activities associated with the conspiracy theories.
Team Trump responds
As it happens, even Michael G. Flynn, the son of Trump confidante and retired lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn, promoted the conspiracy theory, tweeting on December 6:
“”Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many 'coincidences' tied to it.
His comments attracted national attention and even caused him to get fired from Trump's transition team forthwith. Even after his sacking, Flynn shared several tweets by Gamergater and lawyer Mike Cernovich, showing continued support for the conspiracy theory and tacitly implying he believed the gunman incident might have been a false flag operation.
- Alex Jones: "PIZZAGATE IS A DIVERSION FROM THE GREATER CRIMES IN PODESTA WIKILEAKS" (Well, yes it is, since he's the one who made it an issue in the first damn place.)
- The Daily Stormer (neo-Nazi) headline: "Massive Cover-Up of Pizzagate Child Sex Ring Allegations"
- The Right Stuff (neo-Nazi) opening paragraph: "Make yourself aware of the information, use it to prepare memes and to make the lives of Leftists miserable. Do not run headlong into Illuminati conspiracy, that has been a failing tactic in the past, so we must exercise extreme caution around this topic."
- What Does It Mean (conspiracist) headline: "Assassination Of Finnish Reporters Investigating Bizarre 'Pizzagate' Plot Puzzles Russia"
- Smoloko News (anti-Semitic) headline: DHS Insider: CIA AND MOSSAD BEHIND DC PEDO RING
- YourNewsWire (clickbait) headline: "Pizzagate: BBC Cover Up Another Huge Pedophile Scandal"
- The New Nationalist (neo-Nazi) headline: "Will General Flynn Bust the DC Pizzagate Pedophile Ring?"
- We Occupy Earth, (conspiracist) headline: "BREAKING !!! Julian ASSANGE Dead man SWITCH goes off after Exposing Hillary CLINTON !"
- WebLine News (clickbait) headline: "Triggered Reddit CEO Shuts Pizzagate Community Then Alters User Comments"
- Before It's News (All of the above) headline: "'Pizzagate': How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite"
Several images circulating on twitter claim to reveal the "truth" about Pizzagate. These collages are indistinguishable from displays of batshit insanity, commonly known as "crazy walls" or "serial killer walls". Haig's Law may be useful here.
|The author finds this emails strange. Perhaps it's a handkerchief with a picture of a map? Certainly not evidence of a crime.|
|Easily one of the weirdest emails. Conspiracy theorists may think this email is code for something, and "demolish them" can refer to children and grandchildren rather than actual food. You'll see, however, the Podesta's Comet Pizza is a weird establishment. Playing a game of on a slice of cheese is tame compared to the hipster atmosphere the pizza place has to offer. More plausibly, the sentence could be interpreted to mean 'on [a stomach full of] cheese or pasta', rather than the nonsensical 'on [top of]'.|
|Now if you have made it here, there are many[,] many more mails talking about pizza, walnuts, hotdogs, pizza partys,[sic] etc; every link is in the pastebin[.] check for yourself:||A pizza place has mails talking about pizza.|
|We don't mean to distort the narrative to mean something else but before we continue[,]||didn't mean to create a worm, .|
|YOU need to know something, a piece of information that will help you recognize the patterns, signs, symbols, codewords, etc:||This infographic introduces a declassified on Wikipedia. The screenshot actually crudely adds an entry for a white handkerchief (to indicates the person is a pedophile). Also, there isn't any care for critical thinking; you should just trust all the most contrived patterns you're seeing only because you're actively looking for them while ignoring everything that inconveniences the narrative. On top of this, the idea of white symbolizing to children seems entirely fabricated, as there are no lists or sites that suggest this connection.|
|Why investigate this place?|
Most of the mails in the Podesta Leaks refer to the Cheese Pizza, Pasta, or just Pizza in a cryptic way, but that's not all, let's check THE FACTS:
|Aw yeah. I see our master craftsmen is taking lessons from webdesign with some sexy orange ink. Pro-tip: Putting THE FACTS in all-caps doesn't start making crazy statements facts.|
|[Band list screenshot]|
[Establishment screenshot which welcomes all ages]
|Notice how the images don't actually prove anything and are completely devoid of any meaning? Get used to this because presenting images with no meaning is something this author is very, very good at. One image is a bunch of tags that are "friends" of the establishment, which includes Heavy Breathing, the name of a band. This is highlighted in green for emphasis because and only because "Heavy Breathing" is a weird, creepy name, and can be associated with sex acts, which seems like a perfect fit for torturous pattern seekers. It's strange how pizza and cheese are highly contrived code words that confirm a conspiracy, but "Heavy Breathing" is much more explicit, and that also confirms the conspiracy. Finally, for some reason "brightestyoungthings" isn't highlighted, but oh well, might as well highlight everything. "Pandahead" is probably a code word for something out there anyway.
The next image is green and "our shows are always all ages". We believe it's supposed to be taken it as an invitation for children but we shouldn't have to point out that millions of places happily proclaim "fun for all ages!". This shouldn't be a special case, but it doesn't matter if you don't appreciate the mundane.
|[A screen capture of Comet Ping Pong's FaceBook page]
[Comet Ping Pong's FaceBook profile picture]
|A picture of man who truly loves his pizza. It's an exaggerated cartoon that exaggerates like every other cartoon.|
This infographic takes images off of Comet Ping Pong's FaceBook — which are band posters — and points things out with little analysis.
|? Look at the handkerchief code again||The text points to a logo for the band . The author attempts to imply that the drops on the logo are linked to the handkerchief code, but note that most colors (including white, now, since it's been crudely forged into a screenshot of the Wikipedia article) are components of the handkerchief code, so most symbols interpreted thought this light are suspect.|
|Well apart from the weird imagery and occultism references[,] some of you may have pickup,[sic] these have nothing illegal, but we kept digging and the rabit[sic] hole was too deep...||According to an article from Slate, Cauterucci and Fischer suggest that the restaurant's unorthodox and downright weird imagery is the reason behind the conspiracy:
|The author uses red ink and 4chan ">"s to show professional journalism is afoot.
is a punk rock band that the author apparently has a problem with. While it is weird that a band with such a name and logo allows all ages to attend, this is not enough evidence for any crime; it's evidence that the band and Comet Ping Pong is weird. Apparently, the band got accused of being involved in a pedophile ring and wrote this letter to the press:
, because a heart symbol was used by pedophiles at one point. Note that the hearts in either logo are just normal heart symbols lacking the smaller ones inside, the distinctive characteristic of the pedophile logo. video game series has a lot of heart symbols. With this logic, the Zelda series promotes pedophilia.
(This band is fucking weird)
|Thanks for your opinion. And we'll like to let you know that quirky names and surreal imagery (such as the decapitated woman in the band poster) are extremely common for bands.|
|Proponents claim that the owner James Alefantis changed his name to signal a hidden message, "J’aime L'enfants" or "I love children" in French. Such a message would be lost to illicit clients who don't know French. Careful facts don't get in the way of a tasty conspiracy: it also is grammatically incorrect in French (correct would be "j'aime les enfants" or "j'aime des enfants") (though it can still be made to fit).|
|Our top investigator shows us screenshots from Joshua Ryan Vogelsong's instagram profile. On there, there's Photoshopped gay porn to be about pizza, a nude man on pizza, a nude man with pizza on his crotch, and a male penis ejaculating pizza. While the infographic author thinks this is pedophilia symbolism, this is not the case, as we are reasonably certain that pedophilia needs to involve, you know...children. According to Vogelsong's profile description:
Yup, Vogelsong is gay. This explains all the sexual imagery of men.
|This infographic attempts to link a person and two restaurants to pedophile ring through symbol similarities:
How much longer will society ignore these inconvenient truths? When a pattern emerges, will you ignore it? Real children get abused every day, is your fear of being labeled a conspiracy theorist going to stop you from achieving justice?
#PedoFiles #SprititCooking #Anonymous
|It's either a coincidence or a joke by the logo designer who is probably laughing their ass off now. Mere coincidences don't hold up in a court of law.|
Podesta email "code words"
|ice cream||=||male prostitute|
|walnut||=||person of colour|
“”BREAKING [NEWS]: PEOPLE WILL LITERALLY FIND EVERYTHING IN ANYTHING
My friend texted me that he had fries at the bowling alley last night. Now I'm like 95% sure he's smoking crack behind the Arby's.
Cranks speculated that words and phrases used in leaked Clinton-related emails were pedophile codewords. (Of course, these words could also be used normally in normal conversations, but apparently cranks feel the pedophile meanings are somehow more "believable".)
"Pizzagate: Just The Facts"
One (mis)infographic features an explanatory paragraph that speculates on the extent of the conspiracy and who's involved in it:
It is becoming increasingly clear that many of "the elite" including high ranking politicians, celebrities and very wealthy people are operating a global sex trafficking ring. They are doing it under the guise of helping children in need (fostering, rehoming, mentoring etc). Big money is changing hands. Big players are heavily involved. Satanic rituals are involved. Freemasons are involved. The people who control everything you see, read and hear are involved.
Of course, every politician is part of the conspiracy — with the exception of Donald Trump, because he "isn't really a true politician, even as president".
- Proponents claim that the owner James Alefantis changed his name to signal a hidden message reading "J’aime L'enfants" or "I love children" in French. Such a message would be lost to illicit clients who don't know French. Careful facts don't get in the way of a tasty conspiracy: it also is grammatically incorrect in French (correct would be "j'aime les enfants" or "j'aime des enfants") (though it can still be made to fit).
- An infographic claims that codewords used by pedophiles are used in Clinton-related emails. But aside from "", terms like "sauce", "pasta", "", "handkerchief", and "pillows" are not documented terms used by pedophiles; they were pulled out of thin air.
- Adherents believe that the supposed pedophile ring …"[Note 9] Never mind that Moloch isn't Satan.
The alleged cornerstone of Pizzagate is an attachment found in a forwarded email from Bill Clinton advisor Doug Band in 2009 called "pizza.jpg". The attachment contains a photo of two adults enjoying pizza with a kid, which is supposedly evidence of child molestation; however, the email and its attachment were completely misinterpreted. What "Pizza.jpg" actually shows is American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling along with a young girl, possibly Lee's daughter Hana. The three are eating pizza after Clinton secured their release from captivity in North Korea in August 2009. "As John said, it doesn't get any better than this," Band comments to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Podesta, and others. "Nice", Podesta responds.
“”also Podesta sent this pic with this email. Obviously Asian sex slaves
Lessons and conclusions
Crème de la Kremlin
“”Taking one campaign manager's email account and releasing it with zero curation in the last month of an election needs to be treated as what it is: political sabotage, not whistle-blowing.
|—Sociology professor , commenting on the Podesta e-mail leak|
Pizzagate was confirmed in Senate intelligence committee hearings by Clint Watts to be part of a Russian "Active Measures" online operation pushing fake news, ludicrous conspiracies, and a general pro-Russian agenda. These findings lent support to what Glen Caplin, spokesman for the Clinton campaign, had argued previously:
By dribbling these out every day, WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing Putin's dirty work to help elect Donald Trump.
This is why we can't have nice things
Thanks to Pizzagate, something called "cybersteria" (i.e. public hysteria caused by internet trolls) is now a thing. That means BS (like Pizzagate) brainstormed by assholes on 4chan or 8chan, picked up by the Alex Jones Infowars crazy train, amplified and spread by fake news sites, and then kept alive by Twitter trolls is something we're all going to have to live with.
Facebook is now taking the problem of fake news (and its own role in perpetuating it) much more seriously, looking into ways to identify it and stop treating it like any other trending topic in the future. Thanks, Facebook — too little, too late!
A large fault with the story surrounding the Pizzagate situation is the nature of the allegations. In short, all of the "evidence" is , and it's not even good circumstantial evidence, either. Even if Comet Pizza does have a pedophile ring, self-investigators are doing an extremely poor job pushing their case. To date, no evidence or victims have come forward to confirm the existence of a crime of any sorts at Comet Ping Pong.
John Podesta made a tweet which pissed off conspiracy theorists:
“”I know I’m asking for it but the community is great and the pizza is great too. Thanks James.
|—John Podesta (@johnpodesta)|
The tweet links to a Washington Post article by James Alefantis:
Sadly, many people who don’t know me or my neighborhood cling to an absurd lie: that I and political figures including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, , run a child-slavery ring out of Comet’s basement.
Anti-Clinton conspiracy theorists and online trolls congregating on Reddit and 4chan decided that the words “pizza” and “cheese” in these emails were code for pedophilia.
They ultimately pushed the lie that my pizza restaurant was being used to abduct children and commit heinous crimes.
These lies ricocheted from shadowy chat rooms to various social-media platforms, encouraged by fake news articles and deliberately amplified by provocateurs such as Alex Jones, who broadcast these smears to his audience of millions.
After the main course it is customary to follow with dessert. In Pizzagate's case, this means the equally horrible Donutgate, with bizarre pedo ring theories centered on the quirky beloved Portland staple . [Note 10]
Pizzagate 2: Electric Boogaloo
As the Pizzagate conspiracy faded away, most of the energy in the movement got absorbed into the QAnon conspiracy theory. However, as of 2019, the ashes of Pizzagate continue to smolder on within, with some still engaged in the quest of busting up elite pedo sex rings they perceive to be running in Comet Ping Pong's basement. (Comet Ping Pong, incidentally, does not have a basement.)
On January 23, 2019, in what was possibly propelled by conspiracy theories (based on his parents earlier posting conspiracy videos pushed by "JoeM" [Note 11]), Ryan Jaselskis attempted to set a black curtain at Comet Ping Pong on fire, bizarrely (but perhaps related to the conspiracy theory) leaving behind a diaper and baby food in the process. 
- Hillary Clinton
- Deep web — Want to see more (mis)infographics? 4chan has you covered.
- Fake news
- QAnon (The Storm) — an even crazier conspiracy theory of which Pizzagate is a small part
- Satanic panic — We'll have you know that Gen-X perfected the child sex conspiracy, thank you very much. And we didn't use memes or pizza, we did it with cocaine and hard work.
- WikiLeaks — Those ultimately responsible for the entire mess.
- Forget the rest; the man mentioned pizza! Quick — to the kookmobile!
- Keeping in mind that "looking" often means "finding".
- Like your typical Washington, D.C. area pizza restaurant, only featuring
NWO sacrificial altarsping pong tables.
- Because Cheese Pizza, get it?
- Since if someone said something on the Internet, it must be true, right?
- Because any negative story about crooked Hillary must be true, no matter how outlandish!
- This about marks the definite point in the story where extreme concern is warranted.
- If only fake news peddlers had a damn conscience.
- We've all seen much stupider email sigs. Who would take this one seriously? Oh wait, Christians would!
- Infowars, 24 March 2017.
- by Alex Jones (December 5, 2016) Infowars.
- by Ben Richards (November 27, 2016) Daily Stormer.
- by Butch Leghorn (Nov 27, 2016) The Right Stuff.
- Sorcha Faal" (December 5, 2016) What Does It Mean. by "
- by "Baxter Dmitry" (December 3, 2016) YourNewWire.
- by Thomas Müller (November 21, 2016) The New Nationalist.
- by Daniel J Towsey (November 21, 2016) We Occupy Earth.
- (November 21, 2016 8:48) Before It's News.
- Pizzagate infographic SLiMG (archived from December 5, 2016).