Pizzagate: From rumor, to hashtag, to gunfire in D.C.

 Or: “How Right Wing Lies, Rumors and Fake News Begin, Take Root, Spread and Become Truth.”

We’ve all heard the stories, rumors, allegations, conspiracy theories about how Bill and Hillary Clinton are child molesters – pedophiles – who jetted off to small islands in the Caribbean with young children in tow or to meet young children when they landed.  And, let me be clear, if you haven’t heard such stories and rumors, then you haven’t been paying attention.  This, and other rumors, stories, lies, allegations, etc. is why Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential Election to the Emperor of Conspiracy Theories, Donald J. Trump.  

There is a pizza parlor up on Wisconsin Avenue, in my home town of Washington, D.C. in the Tenley neighborhood of the nation’s capital.  Me?  I can’t recall ever eating there, but I know their emblematic sign out front and I can’t recall a time over the past thirty years that Comet Pizza and their sign has not been there.   It’s located along a strip of small restaurants, 7-11’s, fast food joints and a couple of gas stations and is pretty much a part of the Tenley Town scene.  How does a fairly nondescript pizza joint have anything to do with Hillary Clinton and child molesters, you might ask? 

Well, you could ask one Edgar Welch, who, last Sunday entered Comet Pizza with a knife, a 38 caliber pistol and a AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, but who remains in police custody for the time being.  And what, one might also ask, is it that one Edgar Welch was after when he terrorized the upscale Tenley neighborhood on that peaceful Sunday afternoon?  Well the answer might surprise you unless, of course, you have been paying attention over the past decades to the endless stories, rumors, allegations, conspiracy theories that have been lodged against the Clintons, including, of late, Benghazi and Hillary’s private e-mail server.  Now, don’t make the foolish argument that after four years of Congressional Hearings, days of testimony, thousands of pages of documents, that not a single new fact emerged about the attack on Benghazi that wasn’t known three months after the September 11 attack in the State Department’s Accountability Report about the incident.  If you have any doubts about the truth of Benghazi, read it.  It’s quite informative.   Yet, up until the November 8th election, Benghazi and Clinton’s malfeasance associated therewith was rarely out of the news. 

You see, you can’t make this argument because by doing so you are aligning yourself with the fact-based world as opposed to the conspiracy based world where no proof of wrongdoing is simply the surest sign imaginable of a government or media cover-up.  And, of course, everyone knows that the Government and most particularly the Obama Government lies about everything all the time. 

But back to the pedophilia meme.  You see, for a long time – probably two decades or more – rumors about Bill and Hillary’s pedophile activities have circulated over the vast network of underground right wing adherents and their blogs and web sites, until the election of Donald Trump where the vast network of right wing bullshit (conspiracy theories) has gained legitimacy.   You would have known this if you had been paying attention and if you weren’t I urge you to pay attention from now on.

A Washington Post article published just after Welch’s foray into the Comet Pizza world of underground tunnels, secret pedophile signage, a network of local business people and restaurant owners who have linked their establishments with underground tunnels in order to exchange and molest children in secret, explains how this rather fantastical event took place.   But make no mistake here, this is what Welch firmly believed was taking place in a fairly non descript stretch of upper Wisconsin Avenue in the Nation’s Capital.

So how did Edgar Welch come to believe that such atrocities were taking place?  First of all, he believes that Hillary (and Bill) are criminals and he believed the allegations of child molesting even though there has never been a shred of proof that this is the case.  He just knows that Bill and Hillary are child molesters.  How does he know this?  Because he’s seen the reports on what we now call “alt.right” news sites, web sites and blogs.  And, in his view, if there is so much talk about any subject, including pedophiles and child sex rings, it must be true. 

As for his trip up from North Carolina to terrorize the folks at Comet Pizza and Tenley Town?  Well, that all came about from the release of John Podesta’s e-mails.  Podesta is – or was – Hillary’s campaign manger and long time friend – by America’s hero of transparency, Julian Assange of Wikileak’s.  Here’s how this sordid incident began:

On Oct. 28, FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress that he was reopening the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State. New emails had been found on a computer belonging to disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Two days later, someone tweeting under the ­handle ­@DavidGoldbergNY cited ­rumors that the new emails “point to a pedophilia ring and ­@HillaryClinton is at the center.” The rumor was retweeted more than 6,000 times.

From this beginning, the re-upping of the rumor of a Clinton pedophile ring spread rapidly to social media like Reddit and 4Chan and Infowars.  Alex Jones, of InfoWars, picked up on it and repeatedly suggested that Hillary and Podesta were involved in a child sex ring and that Podesta engaged in Satanic rituals.  Here’s what Jones said in a YouTube video:

“When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped, I have zero fear standing up against her,” Jones said in a YouTube video posted on Nov. 4. “Yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children. I just can’t hold back the truth anymore.”

According to YouTube, that video has been viewed more than 427,000 times.
Now you and I might toss off Jones’ accusation as just one more crazy right wing example of craziness but not so our alt.right countrymen.  After all, they’ve been primed for this child molestation “fact” (like the murder of Vince Foster, to cite one other example) for may, many years now.  Sure, they know that Alex Jones can’t prove that Hillary Clinton murdered any or any number of children, - they know this - but given that it is stated as fact on InfoWars and on literally dozens if not hundreds of other sites – this is ample proof that it might be true.  Who knows, right?  They are true believers and any opposition to their “truth” is simply seen as liberal blindness and/or government cover-up.   The proof of this particular pedophile allegation?  Well, it was known that John Podesta actually ate at Comet Pizza.  And right there you have the proof, the  “connection.”    

As the pedophile papers raced around the right wing world of non-fact and spread ever more wildly through this alternate universe, more and more folks shared the shocking news of Hillary Clinton’s and John Poedsta’s child molestation ring.  Then on Election Day came this:
Brittany Pettibone, a right-wing online activist in California who writes science-fiction novels with her twin sister, tweeted drawings of children under the label “Sexualized children, child abuse, pools, and bondage.” She wrote that the images were “a look inside Hillary Clinton’s friend Tony Podesta’s house.” Tony Podesta, a Washington lobbyist, is John Podesta’s  brother.
Pettibone attached the hashtag #PizzaGate. “We need to expose this,” she wrote in another tweet.
Once again, with no proof, Pettibone gave credence to the rumor with her “need to expose this” implying that, indeed, there was something to expose that had been hidden by the mainstream press or covered up by the government.  The “look inside” brother Tony Podesta’s house was proof enough that something was up even though the drawings were simply fake.  After Election Day, even more neighborhood businesses were inundated with hostile, threatening e-mails and phone calls.  Included were Abdel Hammad, an Egyptian and owner of Besta Pizza, who, after removing a picture of a slice of pizza from his restaurant’s web site that his attackers believed was a secret sign to other pedophiles, got a call from an anonymous caller who threatened to “put a bullet through his head.”  Nearby “Politics and Prose” (a bookstore and café I’ve patronized for years) also got threatening phone calls and e-mails.  One of the business’s owners, Lissa Muscatine, had worked as a speech writher for Clinton for over two decades.  She, naturally, become one more “proof” that Hillary Clinton was a pedophile.  Another proof, another “connection.”

On November 16th  two true believers attempted to video inside Comet Pizza – the underground tunnels more specifically – but were asked to leave by the police when the staff objected to them filming an ongoing children’s party. (Comet’s Pizza is this kind of place.) One of them, Jack Posobiec, 31, had never eaten at Comet; he had never even heard of the place until he started reading about it on conservative, antigovernment media sites. “I didn’t pay much attention to it before Election Day because I was focused on the campaign,” he said. “With that going on, who wants to talk about pizza?” Now, with Trump elected, he read the posts more closely. Any story that accused Clinton, John Podesta and Brock (David Brock founder of “Media Matters,” gay and a former neighbor of mine) of nefarious deeds deserved some investigation, he thought. He believed the Clinton campaign was “full of secrecy and deception.”

 On Sunday, November 27, 2016, two men showed up at Comet and began picketing on the sidewalk.  It was sometime later that day when an armed Edgar Welch entered Comet Pizza determined to find the underground tunnels and other evidence that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were engaged in abusing children.  He was, of course, arrested.

His arrest, however, did not end nor will it end the right wing’s firm belief that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton are perverted child predators.  You see, the true believers already believe that this is the truth and there is no evidence – facts, let’s say – that will dissuade them from this belief.  It is the same “rationale” that they use to decry their imagined plight as the “forgotten” of America, the nation’s true “downtrodden and neglected.”  You may think that this is a very odd happenstance – that facts, data and evidence simply have no effect on right wing believers’ beliefs – is somehow strange or possibly even deranged.  But you would be wrong.  Well, no.  You are, of course, absolutely correct but after thirty years of unbelieving the media, unbelieving the press, unbelieving the government and believing only that which reinforces their already formed opinions of what makes for the real world, nothing gets in their way of their firmly held beliefs, no matter how ridiculous we might find them. Their reality, this alternate world, that makes for them “real” news, “real” facts and “real” data, unfiltered, unexamined, and unblemished by the mainstream media, means that right wingers are simply lost to the reality that we, you and me, actually live in. 

Whenever the irrational, the worm hole of conspiracy and cover-up, let’s say, reigns supreme it means that these folks are simply lost to the rest of us and will never be redeemed from their world of lies and conspiracies.  Donald J. Trump is their perfect representative.

PS:  The Post article is a long one but well worth reading.  It details how a conspiracy meme is identified, is latched onto, how it spreads and how there are folks who will act on it as Edgar Welch did.  As I noted previously, if you had been paying attention for the past couple of decades you would already know this.  This “this” presents a clear and present danger to our society.


I firmly believe that this is why “untrustworthy,” Hillary “Lock Her Up” Clinton lost the Presidential Election.  This “pedophile” lie was only one of dozens of such fake stories passing as “news” roaming around the underground internet and bursting into public view on a regular basis.   All were fake.  All were lies.  All were unstoppable.   This is what we are facing.  This is what we are up against. 

Me?  I think we need a thorough revamping of our libel laws in this the internet age.  This kind of damaging “Free Speech” isn’t fun, isn’t funny, and isn’t harmless.   It is exceedingly dangerous.

Quite a story isn’t it?  

Have A Great Day!    


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