Cover story article


From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
If the moon landings were fake and aliens are real, why would John Podesta eat so much pizza?
Some dare call it
Icon conspiracy.svg
What THEY don't want
you to know!
Sheeple wakers
Not to be confused with the Battle of the BuffetWikipedia in British football.

Pizzagate is the (admittedly rather silly and unoriginal) name of an actual conspiracy theory claiming that Hillary Clinton is secretly involved in a pedophile ring centered around a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C.[1] This outlandish theory was spawned from a highly peculiar pattern-analytical reading of the hacked emails leaked by Wikileaks belonging to John Podesta,Wikipedia then-manager of Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, as the highly suspect code phrase "cheese pizza" figured among said correspondence.[2][3] The fact that the mention of cheese pizza was much more interesting to some people than the actual emails of any possible importance whatsoeverWikipedia says something about the conspiracy crowd.[note 1]

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 social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and culminated in an armed man, arguably acting on the suggestion of one Alex Jones,[4] entering the lion's den pizza parlor in question, rifle in hand, to "self-investigate"[note 2] the claims in December 2016. Luckily, no one was injured.

Origin and spread[edit]

Dumbshit Trump supporter holding a Pizzagate sign with triple parentheses around Epstein, an anti-semetic dogwhistle.

The foundations of Pizzagate were laid by 4chan trolls scouring Clinton-related emails released by Wikileaks, looking for dirt.[note 3] They found a series of emails which mentioned the pizza parlor Comet Ping PongWikipedia in Washington, D.C.,[note 4] having seen occasional use as a venue for DNC fundraising events.[5] Because life is random, the phrase "cheese pizza" happened to be an inside joke referring to child pornography on 4chan.[note 5][6][7] 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.[8] The conspira-trollery eventually flooded Reddit, where, on /r/The_Donald/, redditor "DumbScribblyUnctious" collected all the dubious conspiracy theories into one giant screed titled "Comet Ping Pong — Pizzagate Summary".[9]

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.[8] 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?,[10] where he told viewers that "you have to go investigate it for yourself",[4] neglecting to factor in that his viewers might actually be impressionable enough to take his suggestions to heart.

As Pizzagate blew up on the internet, the hashtag #pizzagate began trending on Twitter.[11] Comet Ping Pong suddenly gained a massive amount of followers on Instagram, along with numerous death threats.[note 6] 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 manufactroversy that could realize their wet dream — to "lock her up".[8][note 7]

Meanwhile in Turkey...[edit]

Turkish media outlets loyal to sultan president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responsibly decided to publish articles promoting the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.[12] 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 Erdoğan's ruling party, and to distract from crackdowns on dissent after the attempted coup of July 2016.

A gunman[edit]

United States v. Welch criminal complaint.
Help me [armed redneck listener]. You're my only hope.
Princess Leia Alex Jones, making a wish to the Jackass Genie

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 — 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch from Salisbury, North Carolina — decided to respond to Alex Jones' impassioned pleas for General Kenobi someone to take matters into their own hands and "personally investigate".[4]

Like a modern-day fake news-fueled Travis Bickle,Wikipedia Welch ominously stepped inside Comet Ping Pong on December 4, 2016 at around 3 p.m., when the parlor was packed with customers.[13] 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 8] 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?), he only fired his gun once he was alone in the parlor.[13] Soon after, he was promptly arrested after surrendering to police.[14][15][16][17] Welch later stated that:[18]

I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way. I regret how I handled the situation.

While Welch first heard of the Pizzagate conspiracy through word of mouth, he confirmed it was the barrage of nonsense on the internet that led him to believe his actions were warranted.[18][note 9]

After the shooting, Alex Jones later apologized:[19][20]

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 web site.[note 10] Taking and bearing responsibility is too much effort.

Some Pizzagate believers condemned Welch on Facebook, accusing him of being a crisis actor involved in a false flag.[21] However, if one starts from the premise that Pizzagate is true, one could conclude that Welch acted rationally;[22]:61 this is basically what Welch had confessed.[18] The conclusion from this is that Pizzagate, like many conspiracy theories, is not meant to be believed but to function as a smear campaign.[22]:61

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.[23][24] As evidence, the FBI cited arrests for criminal activities associated with the theories.[24]

Team Trump responds[edit]

As it happens, even Michael G. Flynn, son of Trump confidante and retired lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn, promoted the conspiracy theory, tweeting on December 6:[25]

His comments attracted national attention and even resulted in him being fired from Trump's transition team. Even after his sacking, Flynn shared several tweets by Gamergater and lawyer Mike Cernovich, showing continued support for the conspiracy theory and tacitly implying that he believed the gunman incident might have been a false flag operation.

"Reputable" sources[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Fake news
  • Alex Jones: "PIZZAGATE IS A DIVERSION FROM THE GREATER CRIMES IN PODESTA WIKILEAKS"[26] (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"[27]
  • 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."[28]
  • What Does It Mean (conspiracist) headline: "Assassination Of Finnish Reporters Investigating Bizarre 'Pizzagate' Plot Puzzles Russia"[29]
  • Smoloko News (anti-Semitic) headline: DHS Insider: CIA AND MOSSAD BEHIND DC PEDO RING[30]
  • YourNewsWire (clickbait) headline: "Pizzagate: BBC Cover Up Another Huge Pedophile Scandal"[31]
  • The New Nationalist (neo-Nazi) headline: "Will General Flynn Bust the DC Pizzagate Pedophile Ring?"[32]
  • We Occupy Earth, (conspiracist) headline: "BREAKING !!! Julian ASSANGE Dead man SWITCH goes off after Exposing Hillary CLINTON !"[33]
  • WebLine News (clickbait) headline: "Triggered Reddit CEO Shuts Pizzagate Community Then Alters User Comments"[34]
  • Before It's News (All of the above) headline: "'Pizzagate': How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite"[35]

When the unified neo-Nazi/tinfoil/clickbait front is on your side, you know you're doing it right.


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".[36] Haig's Law may be useful here.

Infographic #1[edit]

Taste the crazy: typical Pizzagate infographic.

The first infographic we look at eases us into the crazy world of a nutjob. It delves into several emails from the Clinton email leak:[37][38]

Original (mis)infographicAnalysis

Hi John,

The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related. Is it yorus[sic]? They can send it if you want. I know you're busy, so feel free not to respond if it's not yours or you don't want it.


The author finds this email strange. It sounds like a handkerchief with a map of popular pizza joints printed on it. Certainly not evidence of a crime.

Mary and John

I think you should give notice when changing strategies which have been long in place. I immediately realized something was different by the shape of the box and I contemplated who would be sending me something in the square shaped box. Lo and behold, instead of pasta and wonderful sauces, it was a lovely, tempting assortment of cheeses, Yummy. I am awaiting the return of my children and grandchildren from their holiday travels so that we can demolish them. Thank you so much. I hope you and your gang are well.

I miss you both

Best wishes fro a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Ps.[sic] Do you think I’ll do better playing dominos[sic] on cheese than on pasta?

This appears to be jokingly referring to sending each other food as a strategy to impact each other's performance in games of dominoes. Strained Boomer humor, for sure. Conspiracy theorists may think this email is code for something, and "demolish them" can refer to children and grandchildren rather than the assortment of cheeses (and therefore "we" referring to eating the cheeses with the grandchildren). You'll see, however, the Podesta's Comet Pizza is a weird establishment. Playing a game of dominoesWikipedia 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]'.

Infographic #2[edit]

Pizzagate infographic2.jpg
Original (mis)infographicAnalysis
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. Suspicious!!

We don't mean to distort the narrative to mean something else but before we continue[,] Argument by assertion. Merely asserting that you aren't distorting the narrative doesn't — gasp! — mean you aren't. Just because Robert Tappan MorrisWikipedia didn't mean to create a worm, didn't stop him from wreaking havoc on the Internet.Wikipedia

YOU need to know something, a piece of information that will help you recognize the patterns, signs, symbols, codewords, etc:
Pizzagate infographic-2 rip.jpg
This infographic introduces a declassified pedophile sign, telling the reader to keep it in mind for later. In addition, the graphic links to the Handkerchief codeWikipedia on Wikipedia. The screenshot very crudely tacks on an entry for a white handkerchief (to indicate the person is a pedophile). The idea of white symbolizing children seems entirely fabricated, as there is simply no evidence to support this connection.[note 11]

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.

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 craftsman is taking lessons from GeoCitiesWikipedia webdesign with some sexy orange ink. Pro-tip: Putting "THE FACTS" in all caps doesn't start making crazy speculation actual 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.

"All ages" is a very common phrase in the punk scene. It just means that no alcohol will be served, so that those under 21 (the legal drinking age in the US) can enjoy the show too. It's extremely common to see shows advertised as "all ages" and there is nothing sexual about it at all.

[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. That's how jokes work. And these people claim the left has no sense of humor...

Infographic #3[edit]

Pizzagate infographic3.jpg

This infographic takes images off of Comet Ping Pong's FaceBook — which are band posters — and points things out with little analysis.

Original (mis)infographicAnalysis
Look at the handkerchief code againThe text points to a logo for the band The Coathangers.Wikipedia The author attempts to imply that the drops on the logo are linked to the handkerchief code, but note that most of the colors in the rainbow (including white, now, since it's been crudely forged into a screenshot of the Wikipedia article) are components of the handkerchief code, so literally any image with color can be interpreted through their lens. Never mind that they're already completely ignoring the whole "handkerchief" part of the code.

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:[41]

So why Comet? It’s possible that alt-righters susceptible to conspiracy theories might have latched onto any D.C. pizza place (they think the word pizza is a pedophilic code word). And it’s true that Comet’s owner, James Alefantis, has some connections to Democratic Party bigwigs. But there’s something special about Comet Ping Pong, and it’s that distinctive character, sadly, that may have allowed the campaign against it to fester. Comet is, after all, D.C.'s weirdo pizza place.

For the better part of a decade, Comet has been both a neighborhood hang for young families as well as a reliable home for eccentrics, queers, outsiders, and their art. Alefantis, who owns another restaurant on the same street and is a formidable player in the D.C. art world, fills his restaurant with a rotating collection of installations from local visual artists. The pingpong tables in the back room regularly get cleared out for concerts featuring up-and-coming local acts alongside touring bands that could easily book the bigger venues in town. While families eat pizza in the front, D.C. punks cheer on their friends and idols in the back. Even when the headliner is a band called Sex Stains, the vibe is generally pretty wholesome.

>Sex Stains
The author uses red ink and 4chan ">"s to show professional journalism is afoot.

Sex StainsWikipedia is a punk rock band that the author apparently has a problem with. Apparently, the band got accused of being involved in a pedophile ring and wrote this letter to the press:[42]

Sex Stains.
A band name we decided on after 100 suggestions by random people on Facebook because every name we could think up was already taken. We are just a punk rock band from L.A. We are NOT pedophiles. Just the thought of that is sickening!

What the hell happened here?
A few months ago, we passed through DC on a week long mini tour. We booked a show at Comet. We were told it's an ok place for bands to play, so we did. That's about the extent of our involvement with or knowledge of this venue.
There was absolutely NO PLOT to purposefully use offensive symbols or to mess with peoples heads. There was/is ZERO interest in anything having to do with children. No one in the band had any knowledge of the triangle/spirals horrid symbolism. We're shocked & disgusted by the theory that we are somehow linked to Pedophelia[sic] rings or Satanic cults, and also by the hateful comments & accusations we've been receiving. WE ARE NOT pedophiles and do NOT support or promote it. Period. Again, we are just a punk rock band.

could it be?
The graphic points out hearts in two band posters, Cold Beat and Cinema Hearts,#default=Link }} 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. The heart symbol is possibly one of the most common symbols on Earth. The Legend of ZeldaWikipedia video game series has a lot of heart symbols. With this logic, the Zelda series promotes pedophilia. 

Heavy Breathing
(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.

Infographic #4[edit]

Pizzagate infographic 4.jpg
Original (mis)infographicAnalysis
Pizzagate infographic 4 rip.jpg
The shirt is a reference to the L'Enfant Cafe-Bar in D.C., whose owner is pictured in the image, and which itself is named after Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the designer of much of the layout of Washington, D.C.[43] 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).[44]

Pizzagate infographic 4 rip2.jpg
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:

Joshua Ryan Vogelsong @gaybashdc @donnaslash

Yup, Vogelsong is gay. This explains all the sexual imagery of men.

And while Comet Pizza is indeed for all ages, as they correctly mention in the image, that doesn't mean every individual person with any relation to Comet Pizza at all will have a completely SFW Instagram feed.

Infographic #5[edit]

Original (mis)infographicAnalysis
Pizzagate infographic 5.png
This infographic attempts to link a person and two restaurants to pedophile ring through symbol similarities:
  1. Besta Pizza[45][46] (the red logo) with the Boy Lover Symbol;[47]
  2. Comet Ping Pong (a logo with two ping pong paddles) with the "Child Lover" symbol
  3. A symbol found on Terasol Bistro's website with the "Girl Lover" symbol.
Aside from the first logo comparison, the other two logos lack any fair comparison. The restaurant Besta Pizza's old logo just happens to look similar to the official "Boy Love" symbol. Because of these remote similarities, cranks conclude that the two pizza places and Clinton are part of a pedophile ring; quite a jump when you consider the widely known pedophile symbols would be the last symbol someone would choose to use for a secret pedophile ring.

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
Mere coincidences don't hold up in a court of law as evidence. Any graphic designer worth their salt knows triangles and hearts are extremely common and basic shapes that can be found everywhere.

Podesta email "code words"[edit]

Word Supposed meaning
hotdog = boy
pizza = girl
cheese = little girl
pasta = little boy
ice cream = male prostitute
walnut = person of colour
map = semen
sauce = orgy
domino = BDSM
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".)[49] No attempt is made to prove that such a code exists, it's merely asserted without evidence.

"Pizzagate: Just The Facts"[edit]

One (mis)infographic features an explanatory paragraph that speculates on the extent of the conspiracy and who's involved in it:[50]

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".

  • An infographic claims that codewords used by pedophiles are used in Clinton-related emails. But aside from "chicken", terms like "sauce", "pasta", "pizza", "handkerchief",[51] and "pillows" are not documented terms used by pedophiles; they were pulled out of thin air.
  • Adherents believe that the supposed pedophile ring also worships Satan, citing as evidence a jokey email signature used by retired Foreign Service officer Lewis Amselem: "With fingers crossed, the old rabbit's foot out of the box in the attic, I will be sacrificing a chicken in the backyard to MolochWikipedia …"[52][53][note 12] Never mind that Moloch isn't Satan.


Cranks dissect the email; their arrows are colorful "enought"
The attachment

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.[54] 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.[55]

No child abuse. No pedophile ring. Yet cranks continued to cook up nutty conspiracies based on the photo.[56][57]

also Podesta sent this pic with this email. Obviously Asian sex slaves

Lessons and conclusions[edit]

Crème de la Kremlin[edit]

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 Zeynep Tufekci,Wikipedia commenting on the Podesta e-mail leak[59]

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.[60][61] These findings lent support to what Glen Caplin, spokesman for the Clinton campaign, had argued previously:[62]

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[edit]

Despite the mass hysteria, the community created thoughtful art to support the Comet Ping Pong workers through the tough times.

Thanks to Pizzagate, something called "cybersteria" (i.e. public hysteria caused by internet trolls) is now a thing.[63] 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.[8] 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 circumstantial,Wikipedia 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.[64]

The aftermath[edit]

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[65]

The tweet links to a Washington Post article by James Alefantis:[66]

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, John Podesta, 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 Voodoo Doughnut.Wikipedia[67][note 13]

Pizzagate 2: Electric Boogaloo[edit]

As the Pizzagate conspiracy faded away, most of the energy in the movement got absorbed into QAnon. 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 "Joe M"[note 14]), 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.[70][71]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Forget the rest, the man mentioned pizza! Quick, to the kookmobile!
  2. Wait a minute, does that mean he was there to investigate himself?
  3. Keeping in mind that "looking" often means "finding".
  4. Like your typical D.C. pizza restaurant, but with NWO sacrificial altars ping pong tables.
  5. Because Cheese Pizza, get it?
  6. Since if someone said something on the internet, it must be true, right?
  7. Because any negative story about crooked Hillary must be true, no matter how outlandish!
  8. This about marks the definite point in the story where extreme concern is warranted.
  9. If only fake news peddlers had a damn conscience.
  10. One might say Alex Jones welched on the apology that likely kept him from facing the music on this one (see what we did there?)
  11. Many sites have a wide variety of hanky codes, but not a single one says anything about white referring to children.[39][40]
  12. We've all seen much stupider email sigs. Who would take this one seriously? Oh wait, Christians would!
  13. This, of course, has no connection to a better-known scandal[68] involving pop star Ariana Grande in 2015.
  14. JoeM is a very prominent QAnon huckster, and one of the many co-authors behind a surprisingly (and depressingly) best-selling QAnon book.[69]


  1. Wikileaks Bombshell Reveals Clinton Email "Where They Are Literally Pricing How Much It Costs to Transport Children." (November 6, 2016) Resurgence Media Network (archived copy from 23 Nov 2016 06:04:10 UTC).
  2. The Saga of 'Pizzagate': The fake story that shows how conspiracy theories spread (2 December 2016) BBC News.
  3. Pizzagate shows how fake news hurts real people (November 25, 2016) Washington Post.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alex Jones Deletes Video In Which He Had Told His Audience To Personally "Investigate" "Pizzagate" Restaurant. Deletion Came After Listener Seeking To "Self-Investigate" Comet Ping Ping Fired Shots Inside by Eric Hananoki (December 16, 2016 2:51 PM EST) Media Matters.
  5. The Podesta Emails Wikileaks
  6. cheese pizza Urban Dictionary.
  7. Everything You Need To Know About Pizzagate (Is Insane) (February 07, 2017) Cracked.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Pizzagate, the fake news conspiracy theory that led a gunman to DC's Comet Ping Pong, explained: How Pizzagate went from the musings of 4chan trolls to the cause for a gunman at Comet Ping Pong by German Lopez (Dec 8, 2016, 11:15am EST) Vox.
  9. Comet Ping Pong — Pizzagate Summary Reddit (archived from 14 Nov 2016).
  10. Open thread for night owls: Alex Jones scrubs 'pizzagate' content cited by lunatic gunman by Hunter (Dec 13, 2016 · 8:00 PM PST) Daily Kos.
  11. #pizzagate on Twitter Twitter
  12. How the alt-right's PizzaGate conspiracy hid real scandal in Turkey by Efe Kerem Sozeri (Nov 23 at 4:47PM) The Daily Dot.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Edgar Maddison Welch: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know by Tom Cleary (Dec 4, 2016 at 9:49pm)
  14. Here's What We Know About The Alleged "Pizzagate" Gunman: Edgar Maddison Welch was arrested after police said he came to investigate a ludicrous conspiracy theory that a popular restaurant secretly provides underage prostitutes to top Democrats (Originally posted on Dec. 5, 2016 at 7:06 a.m. Updated on Dec. 5, 2016 at 2:22 p.m.) Buzzfeed.
  15. Fake news, real violence: 'Pizzagate' and the consequences of an Internet echo chamber by Brian Stelter (December 6, 2016: 9:30 AM ET) CNN Money.
  16. Washington gunman motivated by fake news 'Pizzagate' conspiracy: Washington restaurant Comet Ping Pong was target of fake news reports it was operating a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and an aide (Monday 5 December 2016 07.51 EST) The Guardian.
  17. A man just walked into the Comet restaurant in DC with a rifle. No shots heard. I'm ok, hiding in the red fox coffeeshop next door. by Kent Hoshiko (12:11 PM - 4 Dec 2016) Twitter (archived from 7 Dec 2016 08:36:36 UTC).
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 The Comet Ping Pong Gunman Answers Our Reporter’s Question by Adam Goldman (Dec. 7, 2016) New York Times.
  19. Alex Jones, A Note to Our Listening, Viewing and Reading Audiences Concerning Pizzagate Coverage[a w] Infowars, 24 March 2017.
  20. Tom O'Connor, Alex Jones Apologizes for 'Pizzagate' Fake News. Newsweek, 24 March 2017.
  21. Pizzagate’s violent legacy: The gunman who terrorized a D.C. pizzeria is out of prison. The QAnon conspiracy theories he helped unleash are out of control. by Michael E. Miller (February 16, 2021) The Washington Post.
  22. 22.0 22.1 How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them by Jason Stanley (2018) Random House. ISBN 9780525511830.
  23. FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat by Jana Winter (August 1, 2019) Yahoo News.
  24. 24.0 24.1 (U//LES) Anti-Government, Identity Based, and Fringe Political Conspiracy Theories Very Likely Motivate Some Domestic Extremists to Commit Crminal, Sometimes Violent Activity (30 May 2019) FBI Phoenix Field Office via Scribd.
  25. Trump Fires Adviser’s Son From Transition for Spreading Fake News by Matthew Rosenberg, et al. (Dec. 6, 2016) New York Times.
  26. Pizzagate Is A Diversion From the Greater Crimes in Podesta Wikileaks: Why not cover the hundreds of other dastardly deeds in the emails?[a w] by Alex Jones (December 5, 2016) Infowars.
  27. Massive Cover-Up of Pizzagate Child Sex Ring Allegations[a w] by Ben Richards (November 27, 2016) Daily Stormer.
  28. #PizzaGate by Butch Leghorn (Nov 27, 2016) The Right Stuff (archived from 17 Mar 2017 00:09:57 UTC).
  29. Assassination Of Finnish Reporters Investigating Bizarre "Pizzagate" Plot Puzzles Russia[a w] by "Sorcha Faal" (December 5, 2016) What Does It Mean.
  31. Pizzagate: BBC Cover Up Another Huge Pedophile Scandal[a w] by "Baxter Dmitry" (December 3, 2016) YourNewWire.
  32. NewNationalist — Will General Flynn Bust the DC Pizzagate Pedophile Ring? [a w] by Thomas Müller (November 21, 2016) The New Nationalist.
  33. WeOccupyEarth — Hillary Clinton PizzaGate Child Trafficking Pedophilia Scandal[a w] by Daniel J Towsey (November 21, 2016) We Occupy Earth.
  34. Triggered Reddit CEO Shuts Pizzagate Community then Alters User Comments (November 24, 2016) WebLine News (archived from 8 Dec 2016 22:57:47 UTC).
  35. "Pizzagate": How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite[a w] (November 21, 2016 8:48) Before It's News.
  36. Crazywalls (October 25, 2017) Tumblr.
  37. Email ID #32795 Wikileaks
  38. Email ID #30613 Wikileaks
  39. Gay Hanky Codes by Trevin Beattie
  40. Handkerchief code LGBT Project Wiki.
  41. Comet Is D.C.'s Weirdo Pizza Place. Maybe That’s Why It’s a Target. by Christina Cauterucci & Jonathan L. Fischer (Dec. 6 2016 11:57 AM) Slate.
  42. Tempey, Nathan (December 5, 2016). "What On Earth Is Pizzagate And How Did It Result In Gunfire At Comet Ping Pong?" by Nathan Tempey (Dec 5, 2016 3:35 pm) DCist.
  43. See the Wikipedia article on Pizzagate conspiracy theory § Debunking.
  44. James Alefantis' name is damn close to J'aime al'enfants, which is French for "I love the child" #PizzaGate, Reddit
  45. Figured it out — Podesta Pizza logo is LITERALLY PEDO CODE (2016) Reddit.
  46. Reddit user Claims to have Connected PEDO ring to DOJ by Maluhia (Nov, 6 2016 @ 05:38 PM) Above Top Secret.
  47. (U) Symbols and Logos Used by Pedophiles to Identify Sexual Preferences (31 January 2007) Federal Bureau of Investigation via WikiLeaks.
  48. WikiLeaks: Pedophile Code Words Found In Podesta Emails (2016) Gamefaqs.
  49. Search all Podesta emails for these keywords. We are uncovering a child sex ring. by Jared Wyand (November 4, 2016) Twitter (archived from November 4, 2016).
  50. Pizzagate infographic SLiMG (archived from December 5, 2016).
  51. Disturbing Phrases In Podesta Emails Point To Hillary Crew Speaking In Code by Dawn Parabellum (November 6, 2016) Mad World News.
  52. Hillary Clinton Email Archive Wikileaks.
  53. DNC leaks (2016) Reddit.
  54. Re: pizza.jpg Original email containing "pizza.jpg" (2009-08-08 00:21) Wikileaks.
  55. What on earth is Pizzagate? by Nathan Tempey (Dec 5, 2016 3:35 pm) DCist.
  56. Disturbing Phrases In Podesta Emails Point To Hillary Crew Speaking In Code by Dawn Parabellum (November 6, 2016) Mad World News.
  57. "As John said, it doesn't get any better than this" - Doug Band pizza.jpg (2016) Reddit.
  58. 58.0 58.1 @CrazyJoezGalaxy also Podesta sent this pic with this email. Obviously Asian sex slaves by @OmsToTheWorld (November 3, 2016) Twitter (archived from February 18, 2017).
  59. WikiLeaks Isn't Whistleblowing by Zeynep Tufekci (Nov. 4, 2016) New York Times.
  60. Clint Watts' Testimony: Russia's Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014: Clint Watts is testifying Thursday morning before the Senate's intelligence committee on Russia’s interference in U.S. politics. Here's what he told the senators. by Clint Watts (30 March 2017, 6:44 AM ET) Daily Beast.
  61. Russian Trolls Spread Baseless Conspiracy Theories Like Pizzagate And QAnon After The Election: Less than two weeks after the first "Q" post appeared on 4chan, a Russia-backed troll account began amplifying the conspiracy theory on Twitter. by Salvador Hernandez (August 15, 2018, at 10:49 p.m. ET) BuzzFeed News.
  62. Hacked 80-page roundup of paid speeches shows Clinton 'praising Wall Street': Clinton's speaker's bureau flagged hundreds of excerpts from her high-dollar speeches that could prove damaging. by Kyle Cheney (10/12/2016 03:37 PM EDT Updated 10/12/2016 04:09 PM EDT) Politico.
  63. With Pizzagate, Is Cybersteria The New Normal? by Fruzsina Eordogh (Dec 7, 2016 @ 06:56 PM) Forbes.
  64. 'Pizzagate': How a WikiLeaks-fuelled conspiracy theory led to gunfire at a D.C. restaurant: Trump adviser's son among those perpetuating false story of Democrat-run child sex trafficking ring by Matthew Barakat & Jessica Gresko (Posted: Dec 06, 2016 1:45 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 06, 2016 1:45 PM ET) CBC News.
  65. I know I’m asking for it but the community is great and the pizza is great too. Thanks James. Twitter, 20 April 2017.
  66. Washington Post — What happened when 'Pizzagate' came to my restaurant
  67. Donutgate: How one Oregon donut shop became the target of online conspiracy theorists
  68. Ariana Grande Will Not Be Charged for Donutgate by Natalie Weiner (7/13/2015) Billboard.
  69. The Co-Authors of a Bestselling QAnon Book Are at War With Each Other: At issue is whether an e-book version is too grifter-y by Will Sommer (Jun. 17, 2019 4:56AM ET) Daily Beast.
  70. "Man pleads guilty to fire at DC Comet pizza restaurant associated with 'Pizzagate'", Associated Press, 2019-12-19
  71. "'Pizzagate' video was posted to YouTube account of alleged arsonist's parents before fire", Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, NBC News, 2019-02-14