With his social media site bleeding cash and advertisers bolting after he amplified antisemitism and a report emerged that claimed ads were placed on the site alongside pro-Nazi content, Elon Musk on Tuesday revisited the conspiracy theory well and fished out ... Pizzagate.
“Does seem at least a little suspicious,” Musk wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, Tuesday morning alongside a meme about the widely discredited 2016-era conspiracy. By Tuesday evening, the post was deleted.
“Pizzagate is real,” the six-panel image, featuring characters from “The Office,” reads. “They trafficked children.”
The meme also asserts that “experts” who discredited the conspiracy have been arrested for sexually exploiting children. Musk sought to substantiate the claim by linking to an article about a former ABC News reporter pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
The widely debunked conspiracy, peddled by far-right personalities like Alex Jones in the final days of the 2016 election, claimed a child sex trafficking ring was operating out of the basement of a D.C.-area pizza shop frequented by high-profile politicians including Hillary Clinton.
No evidence supports the claim ― the building doesn’t even have a basement ― though that didn’t stop fringe elements from violently descending on the establishment.
The ABC reporter in question never wrote an article debunking the conspiracy. He was, however, featured in a fabricated New York Post headline this summer alleging he had, which proceeded to go viral on X.
In December 2016, a 28-year-old man, egged on by YouTube videos about theory, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant and threatened employees, believing he was “standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes babies.”
He later pleaded guilty to federal charges and acknowledged his “intel” wasn’t “100 percent.”
In a different incident, another man attempted to set fire to the building.
The post is Musk’s second Pizzagate-related missive in a little over a week. Last week, he amplified a message attempting to tie Media Matters to the owner of the pizza restaurant.
Musk is currently suing the media watchdog after it published a report about major brands’ ads appearing alongside posts promoting Nazism.
It’s unclear when (or how) Musk might get his advertisers to come back, but his ongoing flirtation with conspiracy theories and bigots on his platform don’t appear to be helping matters.
And his past is coming back to haunt him: Commenters on Tuesday seized on the Pizzagate post to question Musk’s own proximity to Jeffrey Epstein, a high-profile businessman who died in 2019 while awaiting sex trafficking charges in a federal jail in Manhattan.
Prior to his death, Epstein suggested he’d advised Musk on various business matters. Spokespeople for Musk have denied the claim.