Up until 2016, a child trafficking and paedophile network was being run by a high-ranking politician from the basement of a pizza shop in Washington DC that also hosted satanic rituals using babies as their victims. Or rather, that’s what a small and very paranoid corner of the internet believed, based on absolutely no solid evidence whatsoever.
One of these people, Edgar Welch, decided to check the rumours for himself. Armed with an assault rifle, he drove from North Carolina and fired shots into the restaurant in question.
No one was hurt and Welch gave himself up to police after finding no evidence of child slaves being held there.
And that should have been the end of it. Only, because we now live in an age of fake news, conspiracy theories and general nonsense, it wasn’t.
The latest person to espouse what became known as PizzaGate is none other than Robbie Williams.
In a YouTube interview aired this week, the singer and former Take That member claimed that none of it has been debunked.
He said: “There might be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the language. Who knows?
“But the fact that we don’t know means nothing has been debunked. Yes, there was no basement in the particular pizza place. That’s not the debunking that I want.”
For the record, PizzaGate has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked and any number of comprehensive articles can be found with a simple Google search (the best is this lengthy piece from The New York Times).
So what’s it all about?
In 2016, the hacked emails of a White House staffer working for Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama were leaked by Wikileaks.
These emails contained, among many other things, dinner plans between the staffer, John Podesta, and various acquaintances.
Users of the notoriously fringe and conspiracy theory-driven website 4Chan scoured through these and decided they contained code words for a child sex trafficking ring.
They must have been quite obvious codewords then?
Absolutely not. Here are the two most widely cited exchanges about a lost handkerchief and a Walnut sauce recipe.
I don’t get it
Well obviously the handkerchief had a map on it that led to a pizza restaurant where all manner of terrible yet “very tasty” things were happening.
Some of the other emails referred to “cheese pizza”, a phrase which has the initials “CP” which also stands for “child pornography”.
I still don’t get it
Don’t worry, it’s an absolute nonsense and there is nothing to get.
What about that pizza restaurant?
Comet Pizza was the site of a Democratic fundraiser and its owner was also on friendly terms with some notable Democrats so in the minds of these internet sleuths, it made sense that this was where the child trafficking was taking place.
The restaurant’s sign also had a couple of crescent moons on it so they threw “satanic rituals” into the mix as well.
I... I still don’t get it?
Oh, but wait, there’s more. Another random person on the internet posted a picture of a basement that they claimed was in the restaurant and was used as a secret kill room.
And is it?
No, the restaurant does not even have a basement, never mind a secret kill room. Williams even said this himself during the interview: ”Yes, there was no basement in the particular pizza place. That’s not the debunking that I want.”
Debunking of what?
It’s not really clear.
In the interview he says: “Nobody’s been asked, nobody’s said and there’s been no answers. But the overarching reporting on this story is ‘debunked fake news’. It’s not.
“The right questions haven’t been asked to the right people in the right places.”
There is literally no evidence that any of PizzaGate is true, no victims have ever come forward and its foundations are possibly one of the shakiest of any of conspiracy theory.
So why does he think it might be true?
We have no idea. None.
Did he say anything else?
Yes, he said: “And also, if there is an explanation and it’s perfectly reasonable, then the explanation is perfectly reasonable. It doesn’t feel like it.”
What does that mean?
Not a clue.