InfoWars overlord Alex Jones, the shouty conspiracy theorist who insists the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, is doing some rare backtracking: He’s now apologizing for propagating “Pizzagate,” the widely debunked theory involving a Washington, DC pizzeria, child sex trafficking, and the Clinton campaign.
The bizarre rumors began circulating during the 2016 presidential campaign after WikiLeaks released a batch of emails from Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta, including correspondence with the owner of Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, James Alefantis, about organizing a fundraiser. Some far-right conspiracy theorists insist the messages are written in code and actually refer to trafficking minors.
As the New York Times reports, Jones issued a public apology to Alefantis on Friday in the form of a “carefully worded statement” that read:
To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis, nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking, as was part of the theories about Pizzagate that were being written about in many media outlets and which we commented upon. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.
InfoWars, a long-running “news” website that has suggested Hillary Clinton may be an “actual demon,” global warming is “a crock of shit,” and Prince was murdered by the illuminati, was instrumental in spreading the wild theory, which took hold on sites like Reddit and 4Chan and eventually propelled one believer to fire a gun inside Comet Ping Pong after driving all the way from North Carolina to “self-investigate.”
Jones’s statement sounds an awful lot like something prepared by a lawyer, rather than the words of a man who insists Lady Gaga’s 2016 Super Bowl halftime show involved satanic rituals. But he’s seemingly been walking back his Pizzagate claims for months; Media Matters noted in December that numerous videos and articles on the subject had been scrubbed from the InfoWars website.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Jones’s denouncement of Pizzagate will dissuade many of its most fervent believers. On Saturday, the day after Jones issued his apology, dozens of protesters gathered outside the White House to demand a formal investigation into Pizzagate, sporting DIY t-shirts with slogans like “Pizzagate Is Not Fake News.”
The Pizzagate faux scandal has also spread to involve other pizzerias in Philadelphia, New York, and Austin, leading to harassment of restaurant employees and, in at least one case, death threats.
• Alex Jones Apologizes for Promoting ‘Pizzagate’ Hoax [NY Times]
• Protesters Demand Investigation of Unfounded ‘Pizzagate’ Rumor [Chicago Tribune]
• Internet Crazies Think This D.C. Pizzeria Is the Center of a Clinton Sex Ring [E]