Elon Musk(l), Phone with Q symbol in front of twitter logo(r)

Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock Koshiro K/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Elon Musk pushes Pizzagate claims with ‘The Office’ meme made from fabricated headlines

Oops.

 

Katherine Huggins

Tech

Posted on Nov 28, 2023

Elon Musk promoted the right-wing conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate on Tuesday morning with a meme based on a fabricated image of a New York Post headline.

The conspiratorial post has been viewed more than eight million times over two hours.

“Does seem at least a little suspicious,” Musk captioned a comic book-like series of images of characters from the TV show The Office talking.

“Pizzagate is real,” read the text overlay on the first image of Michael Scott.

“No it isn’t,” replied Pam Beesly.

“They trafficked children,” Scott said.

“But we have experts,” Beesly countered.

“Your expert just went to jail for child porn,” Scott says, leaving Beesly speechless.

Pizzagate is a prominent far-right conspiracy theory that falsely claims Hillary and Bill Clinton used the basement at Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., as a front for a child sex trafficking ring.

In response to the baseless rumors, a man traveled from North Carolina with a rifle to the restaurant and fired shots in it. A number of death threats were sent to its owner and staff.

Musk’s post appears to reference former ABC reporter James Gordon Meek being sentenced in September to 72 months in prison for transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material.

A fabricated New York Post headline has circulated online claiming that Meek was the reporter who debunked the conspiracy theory. However, no such headline appears on the site nor did Meek publish an investigation about or “debunk Pizzagate” while at ABC, according to Reuters’ fact check team.

No one specific journalist debunked Pizzagate, as various reporters covered it at the time, deducing that it was based off interpretations of hacked and leaked emails of Hillary Clinton.

Pizzagate later spiraled into the larger world of QAnon, which posited that former President Donald Trump was secretly fighting an array of Democratic figures and celebrities who were part of a vast underground pedophile network.

Under the meme, Musk included a link to an NBC News article detailing Meek pleading guilty to charges related to child pornography. However, the article makes no mention of Pizzagate—since again, Meek was uninvolved in debunking it.

Musk’s meme comes a week after the billionaire replied simply “weird” to an X post linking Pizzagate to Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog organization that Musk is currently suing for its reporting on advertisements on X appearing next to pro-Nazi content.

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*First Published: Nov 28, 2023, 11:56 am CST