Some conspiracy theories are pretty easy to ignore. People will talk about them for a while but if nothing substantial surfaces they quickly fade away. Other conspiracies stick around when there’s information to glean or substantial leads to follow. In the case of PizzaGate, it’s a phenomenon that’s gaining more notoriety for the attempts by the media and government to censor it than whatever bits of info was uncovered by citizen investigators.
In fact, the newly approved PizzaGate Wikipedia article sets off all kinds of red flags based on the language and lack of facts used therein, as well as the dogmatic approach by editors to sourcing information on the talk page. Unsurprisingly enough, some of the prominent editors are the same individuals who contributed to the #GamerGate article and the Crash Override Network page, the latter of which was filibustered for months to prevent any public mention of the Crash Override Network leaks that revealed some members engaged in doxing and targeted harassment.
Familiar Wikipedia editors from the Zoe Quinn-related articles such as Mjolnirpants and NorthBySouthBaronof pop up to feverishly talk down to anyone who doesn’t immediately toe the media’s line that PizzaGate is thoroughly “debunked”. Hence, the article opens with…
“Pizzagate is a debunked conspiracy theory which emerged during the 2016 United States presidential election cycle, alleging that John Podesta’s emails, which were leaked by WikiLeaks, contain coded messages referring to human trafficking, and connecting a number of pizzerias in Washington D.C and members of the Democratic Party to a child-sex ring. The theory has been discredited by a wide array of sources across the political spectrum, described as a “fictitious conspiracy theory” by the District of Columbia Police Department and determined to be false by multiple organizations including Snopes.com, The New York Times, and Fox News.
In the case of PizzaGate, majority of the mainstream media outlets covering it completely refuse to even look at the actual data, including the e-mails, the mysterious deaths involving people like Monica Petersen (which received a disinformative “investigation” by the Washington Post who refused to actually quote what Petersen allegedly had posted to Facebook about investigating the Clinton Foundation for sex trafficking, and also avoided linking to the e-mails discussing the topic matter from Wikileaks), the 2011 Breitbart tweets that have yet to be examined thoroughly, or the images on the Instagram account of Comet Ping Pong owner, James Alefantis.
The bizarre thing about it all is that the media have vigorously used misinformation, disinformation and misdirection regarding the topic of PizzaGate, when in reality had they just done a thorough enough investigation and found reasonable explanations for all of the odd occurrences, the topic likely would have faded from the public’s consciousness rather quickly.
None of the media websites reporting on it – including Snopes – seem to actually go into detail regarding the e-mails, the images or the connections that citizen investigators have come up with.
They don’t address the context of the Wikileaks e-mails, such as one where Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, is told that his handkerchief with a map on it seems “pizza-related” and that they can have it sent to him. The context of that doesn’t make a lot of sense and none of the media have addressed it. It’s the same thing with the Podesta e-mail mentioning “Ps. Do you think I’ll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?”
The only explanation for the odd turn of phrases discussing pizza in the Wikileaks e-mails was Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis telling Washington City Paper…
“The answer to any reasonable person would be that Podesta eats pizza sometimes. Indeed, Alefantis says, “pizza’s always a big thing in politics.”
While that doesn’t really put into context the terminology being used, the only other explanation that was offered was provided by art provocateur, Marina Abramovic, who told Art News that things like “spirit cooking” was just a funny way of saying things…
“I’m outraged, because this is taken completely out of my context,” […] “It was just a normal dinner,” […] “It was actually just a normal menu, which I call spirit cooking. There was no blood, no anything else. We just call things funny names, that’s all.”
The “funny names” didn’t entirely sit well with everyone and sadly answers are in short supply, but misdirection and disinformation is not.
As noted by Wikipedia editor Ag97, any Wikipedia editor attempting to actually dive into PizzaGate beyond reiterating that “it’s debunked” is quickly shut down, writing…
“The behavior of some people on this talk page is very disturbing; it’s concerning to see discussion being shut down. Even though I’m most likely going to get blocked for saying this, I will not be silent. There is no reason for “debunked” to be in the article, as this is a biased and editorialized statement, when Wikipedia should be neutral. This is common sense that most uninvolved editors should agree with. The fact that people who agree with this are being censored or threatened with blocks, and that discussion is being shut down is a serious concern.”
Ag97 earned no friends from that comment, and the Wikipedia article for PizzaGate was also quickly locked down by the administrators, so the page became protected and can only be edited by users with “extended confirmed rights”.
According to user Exemplo347, the reason certain editors are so intent on pushing the “false conspiracy” and “debunked conspiracy” narrative is because that’s what their “reliable sources” say, writing on the Talk page…
“Pizzagate has been reported as debunked in a wide range of reliable sources. It is important that Wikipedia articles do not give undue weight to points of view that are not supported by a single reliable source. In this case, an unequivocal statement that this conspiracy theory has been debunked, supported by reliable sources, is the only way to go. The alternative would be to give the impression that this might actually have some basis in fact (without any evidence to support that possibility).”
According to MjolnirPants, the repeated use of “debunked” is to drive home the point that none of the sources deemed reliable contradict that it’s been debunked, writing…
“There are no reliable sources contradicting the claim that this is debunked, many supporting it, and good reasons to include the term”
The editors who have clearly taken a specific stance on the issue also avoid bringing up other topics that surfaced from the PizzaGate investigation. For instance, they don’t address the citizen investigators who uncovered 25,000 child porn accounts on Twitter on November 21st, 2016, some of which had ties to Saudi Arabia, and contained everything from child torture porn to mutilation. The accounts who were outing the pedophile rings were banned on Twitter, and Twitter censored any hashtags attempting to raise awareness of the topic.
Nevertheless, tabs were being kept on the ongoing news through the PizzaGate sub-Reddit. They began combing through the tens of thousands of accounts in order to see if the people on the list of pedophiles that the hackers uncovered had any ties whatsoever to what was mentioned in the Wikileaks e-mails.
However, before any progress could be made, a day later on November 22nd, 2016, the Reddit administrator banned the entire PizzaGate sub from Reddit, essentially halting a lot of the momentum they had built up regarding their investigations into the pedophile rings.
Wikipedia cites the closing of the PizzaGate sub-Reddit due to “doxing”, writing…
“Redditors from /r/The Donald created the /r/pizzagate subreddit to further develop the conspiracy theory. This subreddit was banned on November 23, 2016 for violating Reddit’s policy against doxing, as users had posted personal details of people connected to the alleged conspiracy.”
However, the actual evidence of said doxing never surfaced, and there were conflicting reports between Reddit’s administrators and the PizzaGate moderators about whether or not personal identifiable information was actually hosted on the forum. According to one of the moderators, they explained in a Voat thread…
“Hey guys, I’m a mod over at reddit and an admin just told us the sub will be banned. Apparently we didnt do a good enough job keeping people from posting personal information. I call bullshit on that though, due to us banning that shit on sight. It would probably make sense to send people here now.”
The Wikipedia article also makes the claim…
“Images of children of family and friends of the pizzeria’s staff were taken from social media sites such as Instagram and claimed to be photos of victims.”
This is actually not true and a vast mischaracterization of the relevance of the Instagram account. The issue that people had was with the context of the photos on the account, some of which you can view through a backup here (Warning: Some images near the bottom are NSFW).
Even in the Snopes piece, the individual they quoted from PizzaGate even affirms that Alefantis does not have children and so the photos were from other people. The quote states…
“We recently found the instagram account of James Alefantis. The contents of it are indescribably bizarre and the contexts of the posts and comment chains are weird. Alefantis does not have any children nor do his closest associates, but the photos seem to be a near constant assortment of different children of a variety of ages, intermingled between posts about gay bars, clubs, photos of common rape drugs, and piles of foreign currency. After it being trawled through for 24 hours it has been set to private. A large set of archived copies can be seen here in the next section. Similarly the instagram and twitter accounts of Comet Ping Pong are being edited selectively. The accounts of the people favoriting and commenting on these posts are equally bizarre in both content, context, and demeanor.”
There’s no dispute that the photos do not inherently belong to Alefantis but the issue arose based on the context of the photos and comments Alefantis posted and shared on his Instagram account.
Wikipedia condenses and disinforms people about this issue, instead making a claim with no citation about the photos supposedly being of victims. Even in the Snopes article they don’t even use the word “victim” nor do they cite anyone from PizzaGate claiming the people in the photos are victims.
They also fail to mention that the incident involving the gunmen going to Comet Ping Pong to “investigate” the conspiracy himself occurred when the security cameras were apparently turned away from the pizzeria just 24 hours before the incident occurred and were restored after police arrested the man, which was reported by Distract101 as part of their real-time coverage of the event.
Also, keep in mind that this is a citizen investigation, and a lot of the information is still being pooled through the PizzaGate Voat forum and examined as thoroughly as possible. In one such case, the “Hawaii Connection” to a Dave Flintstone operating a distillery in Honolulu did turn out to be inaccurate. Even though a Dave Stone was mentioned in the Wikileaks e-mails, after personally interviewing Dave Flintstone, he denied having any connection to the Dave Stone mentioned in Wikileaks and explained how he ended up being tied to the conspiracy in the first place due to a former employee.
Wikipedia also has no section dedicated to the censorship taking place surrounding the topic, such as Twitter censoring any hashtags related to PizzaGate or YouTube recently copyright striking content creators for discussing Pizzagate.
Breaking down and disseminating information is very important. Obviously some elements of PizzaGate are clearly false, but as proven in the case of the BBC’s cover-up of pedophile Jimmy Savile, as reported by The Telegraph, it’s not outside the realm of possibility of having prominent figures in position of power engaged in sexual misconduct with minors. Sweeping issues like this under the rug is a complete disservice to the public at large.
In fact, recently the mainstream media actually removed articles about widespread pedophilia rings operated out of Norway. The New York Times, Washington Post and American Broadcasting Corporation all removed articles about the Norway sting, which they recently reported on back in late November. Over on PizzaGate’s forum they suspect that the articles were removed due to some of the suspects being arrested being politicians.
Sadly, an actual discussion about the topic has been completely barred from Wikipedia and the mainstream media. No matter what you think of PizzaGate, it’s not the conspiracy that’s the problem but the concept of (dis)information control executed by the mainstream media and peddled through Wikipedia that should have most people on edge.
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