On 4 November 2016, Reddit user u/DumbScribblyUnctious published a thread titled “Comet Ping Pong – Pizzagate Summary” to subreddit r/The_Donald (a community of Donald Trump supporters), which appears to have touched off a complex and detailed debate involving WikiLeaks’ release of e-mails from former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta, child exploitation, and a Washington, D.C., pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong.
Although the original “Pizzagate” post was deleted at some point between 4 and 21 November 2016, archived versions of it contained what appeared to be the original post in its entirety. (A subreddit dedicated to the controversy, r/pizzagate, was created in the interim.) A brief and incomplete summary of the theory espoused in the original post goes as follows:
Comet Pizza is a pizza place owned by James Alefantis, who is the former gay boyfriend of David Brock, the CEO of Correct The Record. It has been the venue for dozens of events for the Hillary campaign staff. John Podesta has had campaign fundraisers there for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. John’s brother and business partner Tony Podesta has his birthday party there every year. [https://i.sli.mg/1MqPHA.png] It’s also a dive that according to reviews and photos has hidden bathroom doors and creepy murals. The bathrooms in particular have murals exclusively of nude women, as well as a great deal of graffiti relating to sex. Reviews of the restaurant are bizarrely polarized. Websites describing it positively note that there are regularly “unsupervised children running around”. Their menu include a pedophilic symbol, as do the signs and decorations of other neighboring businesses. The music acts and the posters promoting same acts are bizarre in their presentation, content, and lyrical focus, but are still promoted as being “for all ages”. The overtly sexual content would suggest otherwise. The same has taken place in reference to videos recorded inside Comet Ping Pong by people that frequent their establishment as well as video referencing Comet Ping Pong positively from the exterior.
While initially not the central focus of the investigation at the onset, Comet Ping Pong is a much more overt and much more disturbing hub of coincidences. Everyone associated with the business is making semi-overt, semi-tongue-in-cheek, and semi-sarcastic inferences towards sex with minors. The artists that work for and with the business also generate nothing but cultish imagery of disembodiment, blood, beheadings, sex, and of course pizza.
Several pages were linked to support the details of the claim (an e-mail in which David Brock was described as “batshit crazy” by Clinton associate Neera Tanden was among them) and the post primarily focused on Alefantis and his loose ties to the Clinton campaign via a former romantic relationship with David Brock of Media Matters for America. Users tracked down Alefantis’ purported Instagram account (since deleted or restricted), which they said hosted images of children, gay clubs, drugs, and generally “bizarre” or unsettling imagery.
Scattered evidence from previously leaked Podesta communications was included, such as an e-mail about children orphaned after 2010’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti (along with information about adoption agencies and trafficking), or another thread claiming Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and his brother Tony Podesta were purportedly in Portugal at the time Madeleine McCann disappeared.
Additional evidence was presented in collage format, visually “linking” unrelated Instagram screengrabs, a number of individuals supposedly involved, purported coded signaling for pedophiles (such as a butterfly or a “play, eat, drink” insignia which could be abbreviated “PED”), and assertions that underground tunnels linked adjacent business (which themselves also use pedophilia code in their materials): [source]