The Comet Ping Pong pizza pedophile conspiracy theories epitomize the term conspiracy theory: a story based on little evidence, spurious connections, and "facts" that are completely made up. Debunking the Pizzagate conspiracy theory proves to be fairly easy, as most of the "facts" behind this controversy came from the same 4chan geniuses who gave the world the Chester Bennington pedophilia conspiracy. The Pizzagate conspiracy began when Wikileaks leaked emails from Hillary Clinton staffer John Podesta. Among his emails were messages between Podesta and James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor. The James Alefantis conspiracy stemmed from his own work with Democratic fundraisers and his ex-boyfriend, another prominent Democrat.
Thus, when the Pizzagate emails arrived, bottom-feeders on Reddit and 4chan spun a (dumb) story that Comet pizza was the site of a child sex ring. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Comet pizza sex ring scandal took off, igniting conspiracies about Barack Obama, the Clintons, and even talk of Satanist involvement. Government officials from the US all the way to Turkey pushed the theory as fact, leading to one armed citizen actually walking into Comet Ping Pong and opening fire. While thankfully no one was hurt by this debacle, the same cannot be said for human dignity.
The Basement Thesis Is Malarkey
Conspiracy theory: Believers of the Pizzagate conspiracy assert that a Democratic donor named James Alefantis is a pedophile, operating an underage sex ring from the basement of his pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong. As evidence, theorists cite photos from Alefantis's Instagram showing kids in the restaurant along with modern art he hangs in the establishment.
Why it's nonsense: No basement exists at Comet Ping Pong. With no basement to speak of, the entire plot of the conspiracy - a man with connections to the Democratic Party runs a child sex ring out of his basement - really falls apart.
There Is No Link To Hillary Clinton
Conspiracy theory: Conspiracy theorists believe the Comet Ping Pong child sex ring reaches the highest rings of power in the Democratic Party. In fact, they claim it leads all the way to 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. As evidence for this, conspiracy theorists refer back to emails (always the emails) from campaign manager John Podesta after his account was hacked. Podesta exchanged emaild with James Alefantis, a frequent donor to the Democratic party and owner of pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong; from there, an army of trolls, pranksters from 4chan, and Alt-Right Internet personalities attributed a wide variety of crimes and depraved acts to Alefantis and linked him with Clinton.
Why it's nonsense: The fact remains Alefantis has never met Hillary Clinton, and none of the leaked emails give any indication whatsoever that he did anything wrong. What's more, nothing links the pizza shop owner to Clinton aside from emails to one of her employees.
A Meaningless Code
Conspiracy theory: Conspiracy theorists came up with a variety of ways to give credence to Pizzagate. With little evidence to back up their claims, they "deciphered a code" in the emails hacked from John Podesta. The exchanges with James Alefantis and Podesta via email included words like "pizza," "hot dog," "pasta," "ice cream," and "walnut." A 4chan user said the words formed a code, with "hotdog" meaning "boy," "pizza" meaning "girl," "pasta" meaning "little boy," "ice cream" meaning "male prostitute," and "walnut" meaning "person of color." The words "map" and "sauce" stood in for "semen" and "orgy" respectively.
Why it's nonsense: Here's the thing about the cypher: it has no basis in anything. In fact, "cheese pizza" is actually a term used on 4chan to mean "child pornography," or CP. Typically codes utilize a specific pattern, not simply substituting one word for another. Moreover, nothing in the Podesta emails indicates any of the normal words in the messages holds a second meaning; in the end, this "code" was imagined by an anonymous Internet user likely posting from their mom's basement.
Associating Comet Ping Pong With Satanism
Conspiracy theory: Comet Ping Pong, the pizza restaurant at the center of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, is owned by a Democratic donor and was a stop for Clinton and Obama campaign manager John Podesta starting in the 2008 campaign. In order to establish a link between the restaurant and child-sex trafficking, 4chan posters postulated the moon iconography seen on the parlor's logo stood for Satanic symbols. They came to this conclusion after seeing similar lunar images on other Satanic pieces.
Why its nonsense: If you give it a little thought, a simple explanation exists as to why a restaurant called Comet Ping Pong has a moon in its logo: comets are found in space, where the moon and stars also exist. Blows your mind, doesn't it?