PART I: Overview
The 411 and the Major PlayersHans and I are back after a two-year hiatus, and we have been eating a lot of pizza lately. Why can’t the global elite operate their child trafficking rings out of juiceterias? #smoothiegate
Fifteen months have passed since Pizzagate first blew up all over social media, and most sources critical of Pizzagate use the past tense, telling you that Pizzagate was a theory that emerged during the 2016 presidential race, that people believed Hillary Clinton was involved in a vast child-trafficking network centred around casual dining in Washington, DC., etc.
Don’t be fooled. Pizzagate is still here, and Pizzagate will always be here. It is part of us now. For decades to come, it’s going to serve as another example of things They got away with doing under our noses. It will contribute to outbursts from citizens outraged by how evil the world has become. It will cause tears and heartbreak to Facebook users who can’t stop thinking about the terrified, vulnerable children locked up in freezers beneath bistros. Calling Pizzagate “debunked”, “discredited”, “fake” or “unfounded” isn’t going to change its real-world impact at all.
So let’s deal with it.
Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight: I don’t care how you feel about Pizzagate. I don’t care what your instincts are telling you. I don’t care what your political affiliation is. We are going to deal primarily with the straight facts of this matter – the artwork, the tweets, etc.
Lurking in forums and social media groups over the past year, we have seen hundreds of pages of information related to the occult, weird art, human trafficking, pedophilia, and arcane symbology. What haven’t we seen? Evidence that you can take to the bank. In fact, there is so little concrete evidence here that Pizzagate can’t even be classified as a conspiracy theory at this point. It’s more like a conspiracy hypothesis. Once you dig past the hoaxes, misinformation, and irrelevant material, you’re left with little more than, “Wow, the Podesta brothers really like food.”
This isn’t anything like the “Franklin cover-up” quagmire, which is dense with accusations and counter-accusations, lawsuits and confessions. Here, the evidence is so thinly layered that you hit bedrock almost as soon as you start digging.
“Is this all there is?” you ask.
“Connect the dots,” the Pizzagaters urge. “Wake up.”
So why am I even bothering with this topic at such a late date? Well, first of all, Pizzagate became a global phenomenon, and its core claims are certainly serious enough to warrant scrutiny. Secondly, the formation and dizzying growth of the Pizzagate hypothesis is a fascinating, convoluted tale that tells us a great deal about ourselves: our history, our weaknesses, our information culture. Thirdly, Pizzagate is history. It overlaps with one of the strangest political atmospheres in U.S. memory, as well as the emergence of peculiar neo-nativist movements and ugly sexual scandals, both real and imagined.
Most importantly, Pizzagate has not really been examined in a concise, critical manner. Snopes took a shot, but kept it very brief as per their short-form debunking style. Saying “Comet Ping-Pong doesn’t have a basement” is not enough anymore. BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone zeroed in on how Pizzagate began and how misinfo was disseminated by bots and Twitter patriots, without discussing the actual hypothesis itself in any depth. The Washingon Post has run several stories focusing on the weirdity of Pizzagate, as though it’s a singular event in the history of American conspiranoia (it’s not). The New York Times assembled a decent overview, but couldn’t get into too many details.
In this series, I’m going to give you a detailed timeline of events, show you historical parallels to Pizzagate hysteria that will put it into some context, and expose how a few obscure players manipulated us into being suspicious of mundane things. We’re going to examine the Pizzagate body count, the strangest sub-theories and virtually every smoking gun that has been presented by the Pizzagate community. I’ll even teach you how to become a Pizzagate investigator.
If you’re not familiar with Pizzagate, here’s the crux: According to many Internet denizens, a handful of code words in the leaked John Podesta emails have revealed the existence of an international child trafficking/prostitution ring made up of Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats.
This hypothetical “Pizza Ring”, as I’ll call it, is headquartered in or near a popular D.C. pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong, owned and operated by one James Alefantis. This popular Connecticut Avenue eatery, opened in 2006, regularly hosts musical performances and political fundraisers. It has a laid-back, hipstery vibe, with a room full of ping-pong tables and local art covering the walls (you’ll be reading a lot more about that). “Comet”, as it’s often called, was featured on an episode of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2013.
The child slaves are supposedly brought to this location via a network of tunnels beneath the pizzeria, and may be held or abused in the basement of the restaurant. Some of the children are ritually sacrificed and/or consumed, because the Pizza Ring is part of a worldwide cult that does that sort of thing.
And they would’ve gotten away it with, too, if it wasn’t for you meddling Twitter users.
Thousands of people all over the world are now taking part in a crowdsourced citizen investigation of the Pizza Ring. Let’s call these investigators “Pizzagaters.” They have linked Pizzagate to alleged child trafficking in Haiti, several murders and suspicious deaths, and even sports injuries. Celebrity Pizzagaters include Roseanne Barr, James Woods and Kanye West.
Although it’s just a little over a year old, the Pizzagate hypothesis has already had real-world consequences:
- A Trump transition team member probably lost his job over a Pizzagate-related Tweet. Trump loves his conspiracy theories, but it seems Pizzagate is a line in the sand for him. Michael Flynn, Jr. tweeted the following on November 2, 2017:“I want him fired immediately,” Trump reportedly declared. And that’s precisely what happened. Furthermore, the incident may have helped drive a wedge between Trump and Michael Flynn’s father, White House national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn. We all know how that ended.
Michael, Jr. is about as sharp as an egg. Last year, he used the hashtag #MuslimBan to discuss Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from several Muslim-majority, high-conflict nations. The administration obviously wasn’t keen to see this order characterized as a “Muslim ban”, so this time both Flynns deleted their Twitter accounts.
- On December 4, 2016, a young man named Edgar Welch tried to intimidate the business owner, staff and patrons of Comet Ping Pong by firing a weapon three times in the restaurant. He said he was merely “investigating.” Most Pizzagaters insist this was a false flag incident staged by someone-or-other to rally public support for the Pizza Ring and shut down the citizen investigation. Welch originally entered a plea of not guilty, but later took a plea deal. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for interstate transportation of a firearm and assault with a dangerous weapon.
- D.C. police devoted manpower and resources to the shooting incident, threats made against business owners, and some of the allegations made online. The FBI’s Russian probe also investigated aspects of the allegations.
- Internet broadcaster Alex Jones apologized for certain comments, for perhaps the first time ever, after he and a guest made weird and insupportable allegations against people around the time of the shooting incident. This “apology” was the direct result of threats of legal action. Currently, singer John Legend is also threatening legal action against Pizzagaters for claiming that he and his wife could be part of the Pizza Ring. Celebrities and politicians have long ignored the wackier conspiracy theories that adhere to them. Now that the fringe has gone mainstream, they can’t afford to do that. They’re fighting back and forcing alternative media to be more accountable for what they put out there.
- Business owners and employees, friends and neighbours of the “suspects” and numerous artists have been harassed and slandered by people who think they must be Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats.
- According to some, Pizzagate investigators fell victim to the “largest ban in the history of Reddit.” We’ll examine this claim later.
- Law & Order: SVU based an episode entitled “Real Fake News” on Pizzagate, portraying the conspiracy theory as a plot cooked up by Russia to undermine the U.S and disgrace a Congressman. This is the only exposure to Pizzagate that many Americans have had, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
- Hillary Clinton has made hay of it, even mentioning it in a commencement address.
Some Pizzagaters claim to have moved beyond the narrow confines of the Pizza Ring hypothesis, and prefer the term “Pedogate.” Bizarrely, though, highly specific allegations of sexual misconduct (such as those against senate candidate Roy Moore) don’t seem to bother them as much as sketchy rumours of possible sexual misconduct.
Dramatis Personae: The Accused
For this lineup, I’ve used memes actually shared in Pizzagate online communities. These images in no way reflect my personal attitudes or beliefs. I include them here as examples of how vicious, absurd and childish some of the Pizzagate accusations are.
Keep in mind that these are definitely not the only people to be accused by Pizzagaters. They’re just the major players.
Marina Abramović, 71: A world-renowned performance artist who is friends with John Podesta and his brother, Anthony. She is perhaps best-known for her performance pieces entitled The Artist is Present, in which she sits silently in a chair while people say and do anything at all to her. But it was her quirky Spirit Cooking pieces that led Pizzagaters to the conclusion that the Podestas might be Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats. As we’ll see, the misrepresentations of Spirit Cooking as an occult ritual were crafted by alt media outlets.
Like most performance artists, Abramović has deliberately cultivated an unsettling, offbeat persona. She wears upside-down crosses, dyes her hair raven-black, and poses with goat horns, giving her a sort of posh Morticia Addams vibe.
Abramović has no criminal record and has never been implicated in a sex scandal.
James Alefantis, 43: Not only is Alefantis the owner of the restaurant at the centre of Pizzagate, he is an ex-boyfriend of David Brock, the founder of both Media Matters for America and the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record (Alefantis and Brock dated c. 2007-2013). I mention this only because Pizzagaters bring it up continuously.
In 2009, Alefantis became the sole owner of both Comet and another Connecticut Avenue restaurant called Buck’s Fishing & Camping when co-owner/chef Carole Greenwood left the industry.
He has produced independent films and is extremely active in the D.C. arts scene.
He is a registered and active Democrat.
Alefantis’s various activities earned him the #49 spot in GQ‘s list of the 50 Most Influential People in D.C. back in 2012. A lot of Pizzagaters think this is weird, but there is one other restauranteur and a trio of party planners on the same list. GQ described Alefantis as a local bon vivant.
Alefantis has no criminal record and has never been implicated in a sex scandal. Unless that thing with Brock’s other ex-boyfriend counts.
Hillary Clinton, 69: I don’t think this lady needs an introduction. Though she is not referenced in any of the “incriminating” Podesta emails, she is obviously thick as thieves with John Podesta (chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign). Clinton has no criminal record, but has been implicated as some sort of accessory-after-the-fact in several sexual assaults allegedly committed by her husband, and sundry other scandals. She has also been characterized as a lizard-woman, a closet lesbian, and a serial murderer who knows how to disguise assassinations as suicides.
[The artwork above is by Holocaust denier David Dees. I have written about Dees at Leaving Alex Jonestown.]
Jeffrey Epstein, 64: A wildly successful, deeply secretive financier and billionaire who split his time between New York, Florida, New Mexico, the Virgin Islands, and France. Like Clinton, Epstein doesn’t appear in any of the Pizzagate-related emails, but he was friendly with Bill Clinton. He is also friends with Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and thousands of other people.
Epstein is the only major Pizzagate figure with a criminal record. In 2008, after a three-year investigation by Palm Beach police, he was convicted of soliciting an underage female prostitute. Numerous young women have accused him of paying them for sexual favours and/or sexually molesting them when they were as young as 14, though no criminal charges have been laid in relation to those allegations.
John Podesta, 68: Podesta is a major Democratic player. He served as chief of staff to President Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama before becoming chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. He serves on more boards and councils than you can possibly imagine.
In March 2016, he fell prey to a phishing scam that gave unidentified hackers access to his Gmail account. Wikileaks subsequently obtained these emails and published them online in 28 batches, or volumes, between October 7 and November 4, 2016. A small number of these emails form the dark nucleus of Pizzagate.
Podesta has no criminal record and has never been implicated in a sex scandal.
Anthony Podesta, 73: John Podesta’s only sibling, and a heavy political hitter in his own right, Tony Podesta is a veteran D.C. lobbyist and art collector.
Podesta has no criminal record and has never been implicated in a sex scandal. He did step down from his position at the Podesta Group lobbying firm as a result of the FBI investigation into possible Russian tampering in the presidential election, and the Podesta Group shut down in late 2017.
Anthony Weiner, 52: Congressman who seemed to spend most of his time taking dick pics and sending them to many women – and one underage girl. For the latter activity, he got into a lot of trouble. His wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, has been named as a Pizza Ring member by some Pizzagaters.
In a sense, Pizzagate is the bastard child of Anthony Weiner, because the earliest online speculation about “something big” revolved around the FBI’s investigation of his emails. However, that probe didn’t yield anything big, so the rumour mill moved on to John Podesta’s emails in search of dirt.
On the surface, all of the people mentioned above are on the same page politically. Don’t be fooled. David Brock has harshly criticized Hillary Clinton’s campaign team, headed by John Podesta, for failing to get her into the White House. Tony Podesta stepped down from his post at the Podesta Group not because he was a subject of the FBI investigation, but because his company employed a Republican who was. Sure, Jeffrey Epstein was friendly with the Clintons – but he was also tight with Donald Trump. Real life does not always follow party lines.
Dramatis Personae: The Accusers, Investigators and Pizzagate Experts
Mike Cernovich: Cernovich is a right-wing internet personality very active on Twitter. In 2012 he set up the website Danger and Play, primarily as a forum for Men’s Rights topics. He was a loud voice throughout Gamergate. He says semen has magical, addictive properties and should be carefully guarded from semen-stealing whores (“whores” = women who are sexually active). He thinks white genocide is a thing. He makes sassy comments about rape and occasionally accuses people of supporting child molesters in order to get them fired. When he records his videos, he makes sure you can see his hawt Iranian wife lounging in the background (“See, I’m not racist!”). You know, the usual alt media hipster edgelord shit. It’s completely impossible to tell how much of Cernovich’s output is brand-building bluster and how much is genuine, so I won’t even waste your time with that.
During the 2016 election, Cernovich increasingly focused on the political scene (because Trump). His main contribution was insisting that Hillary Clinton had advanced Parkinson’s Disease. When that got stale, he become one of the first and most prominent “new right” voices to trumpet Pizzagate. In fact, he was so early to the game that it wasn’t even called Pizzagate yet. He continued to heavily promote the hypothesis for several months.
Since that time, Cernovich has eased back from Pizzagate as part of an effort to up his credibility. We’ll look more closely at his Pizzagate role in the next post.
Liz Crokin: Like David Seaman (see below), Crokin was a freelance journalist and is now a full-time Pizzagater.
Crokin claims that journalists who write about sex trafficking are being blacklisted, just as the editors at Townhall.com supposedly blacklisted her for writing about “Pedogate.” This echoes the Pizzagaters’ frequent cries of censorship and persecution, which usually turn out to be exaggerations. A Google news search for “sex trafficking” should reassure you that lots of journalists are still covering the topic. What Crokin omits from her blacklisting allegation is that Townhall stopped publishing her work after she jumped to the defense of professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos, devoting roughly a third of her “sex trafficking” article to how mean everybody was being to him. It’s possible that Townhall ditched Crokin for her inability to stick to a goddamn topic.
Prior to Pizzagate, Crokin wrote primarily for tabloid publications and sketchy websites. She has a history of dramatic and bizarre claims, some of them disguised as fiction. After breaking up with a wealthy older boyfriend in 2013, she published a political thriller entitled Malice in which the antagonist is a wealthy older man who abuses children, somehow gives his daughter Lyme Disease and slips ecstasy into his wife’s drinks. Crokin has accused her ex of giving her herpes that resulted in meningitis and brain damage. He has countered by alleging that Malice is a thinly disguised attack on him. Which, duh.
At one time, Crokin claimed that a sex tape of Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin and an underage girl was soon going to emerge and blow the lid off the Pedogate scandal. This video was supposedly found on Anthony Weiner’s computer, in a file labled “Life Insurance.” Crokin is the only person to claim any knowledge of this video. Just like the video of Bill Clinton assaulting a 13-year-old girl, which we’ll cover in the next post, this video has never surfaced.
Currently, Crokin is clinging to the idea that the FBI’s Russia investigation will lead directly to Hillary Clinton.
The Drudge Report: Though Drudge never jumped all the way onto the pizza bandwagon, it gave the hypothesis a powerful kickstart with a re-post of an Infowars story headlined “WIKI WICCAN: PODESTA PRACTICES OCCULT MAGIC.”
Alex Jones, 44: The subject of one of my other (mostly defunct) blogs, Leaving Alex Jonestown, Jones is an Internet broadcaster who believes the Anti-Defamation League might have been behind the Holocaust Museum shooting and that France is genetically engineering fishpeople like Kevin Costner in Waterworld. He’s an avid Trump supporter. Like Cernovich, Jones took an intense interest in Pizzagate, then backed away from it. However, his early support for the Pizzagate hypothesis helped launch it into public consciousness, so his role cannot be overlooked.
Jones has no criminal record,
and has not been implicated in a sex scandal, though he’s friends with Charlie Sheen but is currently being sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment by two former employees.
At this time, Jones’ YouTube channel may be deleted. It was put on notice after he posted videos describing the Florida school shooting as fake and some of the teenage survivors as “crisis actors.”
Breitbart.com: Breitbart published a few articles on Pizzagate, but its main contribution to the hypothesis was the misconception that the late Andrew Breitbart exposed John Podesta as a human trafficker and pedophile all the way back in 2011. We’ll examine this utterly inaccurate bit of pizzalore in Part IV.
Brittany Pettibone: One of several twentysomething alt-right wannabes who attempted to boost themselves into the spotlight with Pizzagate, Pettibone has worked closely with white supremacists and believes in white genocide, while insisting she is not a racist. She was recently barred from entering the UK (Britain’s Home Office explained in a statement that it has the power “to refuse entry to an individual if it is considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good”). Tucker Carlson leapt to her defense. He presented her as just your average conservative journalist, which she is not. She is a cute little Nazi who gets far more attention than she has ever earned. That’s really all there is to say about her.
Jack Posobiec: Basically Mike Cernovich in a different skinsuit.
Chances are that any goofball conservative PR stunt you’ve heard about in the past year and a half had something to do with this guy. In November 2016 he showed up at an anti-Trump rally with a “Rape Melania” poster. A month later, he used his Twitter powers for evil and convinced most Trump supporters – without presenting a crumb of evidence – that Disney had hastily added anti-Trump scenes to Rogue One. This culminated in the Twitter ban of another central Pizzagater, Jared Wyand (see below).
Posobiec’s primary contribution to Pizzagatery was his live-streamed “investigation” of Comet Ping Pong. He found nothing of interest and was asked to leave the restaurant for attempting to broadcast a child’s birthday party.
Pseudo-Anonymous: Who the hell knows who this is? Could be anybody. Anonymous, as you know, is a collective of hacktivists who release videos via a semi-official YouTube channel and occasionally organize mass actions dealing with everything from Scientology to Australian porn. But pseudo-Anonymous groups proliferate online, and (as we’ll see) their stances are often at odds with the real Anonymous. In this post, I have tried to differentiate between pseudo-Anonymous groups and Anonymous, but it’s not always an easy thing to do.
David Seaman: All of Seaman’s earliest Pizzagate videos have been removed from YouTube, but the former freelance journalist has still churned out an incredibly high volume of Pizzagate-related videos in the past year. I don’t think it would be exaggeration to say that Pizzagate is his life now.
Seaman got his start in journalism by landing an internship at Jezebel in 2007. His bosses immediately tired of his childish self-absorption. He then wrote two books about self-promotion, including How to Be a Publicity Whore (2008), and became something of an expert on cryptocurrency.
In 2016, he was publishing a HuffPo finance blog. That’s where things went sideways. HuffPo supposedly fired him for posting too many stories about Hillary’s health during the 2016 election cycle, and he admittedly turned into a beer-swilling, unemployed mess. He grew determined to get revenge on “that bitch”, and Pizzagate was one of the last straws left to grasp. Seaman grasped it hard. As we’ll see in part II, though, Seaman was not actually fired by Huffpo.
At this time, Seaman is under a two-week YouTube ban for posting videos about the Florida school shooting being fake.
Edgar Welch, 29: North Carolina resident with no known connections to anyone in D.C. (or anyone in this entire lineup, for that matter). On December 4, 2016, he entered Comet Ping Pong and fired three shots from an assault rifle after a failed attempt to find and rescue child slaves from the restaurant.
Welch has a criminal record that includes marijuana possession, a 2007 conviction for driving after consuming alcohol while under 21 and a 2013 conviction for driving under the influence, according to court records. In October 2016 he struck a kid with his car. We also know he worked on several student films between 2007-2009, and graduated from Cape Fear Community College in 2007. He has two kids with his girlfriend. He’s a registered Republican, but hasn’t expressed any political motivation. On his Facebook page, he posted things about Biblical prophecy and the coming of the Muslim Antichrist.
There are a lot of theories about Mr. Welch. Pizzagaters generally believe he was a government agent or a mind-controlled patsy sent to discredit their investigation. In my own view, Welch probably has some mental health issues and a good dose of Travis Bickle syndrome. He told police he brought the rifle with him to “help rescue” any children he found, and en route to D.C. he recorded a video message for his family, telling them he loved them and he hoped to be able to tell them that again.
Prior to entering Comet, Welch reportedly texted a friend that he was “Raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacraficing [sic] the lives of a few for the lives of many… I’m sorry bro, but I’m tired of turning the channel and hoping someone does something and being thankful it’s not my family. One day it will be our families. The world is too afraid to act and I’m too stubborn not to.” The text also mentions “Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes babies and children in our own backyard.”
Some Pizzagaters have followed the lead of Sandy Hook and Boston Bombing truthers by pointing to Welch’s handful of film credits and declaring him a “crisis actor”, hired by someone-or-other to impersonate a crazed gunman. This is unlikely. Welch has accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed regrets for the way he handled the situation. He is also serving four years in prison – a stiff price to pay for an acting gig.
Social Media Users on Twitter, Gab, Voat, Steemit, YouTube, Reddit, etc.: The driving forces behind Pizzagate may or may not be using their real names online, as is their right. Therefore, we know little to nothing about them. We don’t know if any of them have criminal records, and we don’t know if they have been implicated in any sex scandals.
Wikileaks and Julian Assange: Wikileaks and its founder don’t need an introduction, do they? Wikileaks is now the world’s largest repository for leaked, stolen and classified information that you’re probably not supposed to see. It has been instrumental in exposing injustices and dragging hidden information into the sunlight. It published the Podesta emails and took a keen interest in the early research of Pizzagaters.
Assange was accused of rape in Switzerland in 2010, and took refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London rather than submit to a Swiss police investigation. The Swiss investigation was dropped in May 2017, but Assange continues to reside at the Embassy to avoid bail-jumping charges.
Jared Wyand: Though Wyand is the second-most obscure online personality on this list (Ms. Pettibone being #1 with a bullet), he is more responsible for the creation of Pizzagate than any of them. He had a sizable Twitter following in late 2016, and he tweeted the mysterious, food-related “code words” that spurred people to comb through John Podesta’s emails in search of dirt and led to the “outing” of Comet Ping Pong as the spiritual headquarters of the Satanic Gay Pedo Cannibal Democrats.
Wyand subsequently freaked out over the anti-Trump scenes that weren’t even in Rogue One, and pitched a racist, anti-Semitic Twittertantrum that got him banned. He now posts at Gab, where he is openly a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite. We’ll see much more of him in Part IV (The Evidence).
Looking at this random assortment of characters, it’s difficult to comprehend how a conspiracy hypothesis involving all of them came to exist. To understand how Pizzagate became a phenomenon, we have to review its troubling origins.
The Birth of an Hypothesis: The Pizzagate Timeline