A day after visiting the sites of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacres and meeting with Israeli government officials amid backlash over his promotion of antisemitism, X owner Elon Musk boosted yet another unhinged right-wing conspiracy theory.
In order to lend credence to Pizzagate, a years-old conspiracy about a Democratic-run pedophile sex ring that was the precursor to QAnon, Musk peddled the false claim that an ABC reporter convicted on child pornography charges had “debunked” Pizzagate. In reality, the reporter in question never once covered the crazed conspiracy theory.
Hours after tweeting a meme declaring “Pizzagate is real,” the mercurial billionaire quietly deleted the post following widespread criticism.
This isn’t the first time that Musk, who has made a habit of jumping aboard a variety of conspiratorial trains, has boosted Pizzagate. While facing an advertiser exodus over his embrace of the vile “Great Replacement” theory and Media Matters reporting that major brands’ ads were running alongside pro-Nazi content, Musk promoted a tweet attempting to link Media Matters’ founder to the owner of the “Pizzagate restaurant.”
On Tuesday, following his visit to Israel to seemingly tamp down the outcry over the increased antisemitism on the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter, the Tesla CEO shared a meme featuring characters from The Office with text debating the validity of Pizzagate.
“Does seem at least a little suspicious,” Musk captioned the meme.
According to Musk’s meme, “Pizzagate is real” because the expert who refuted unhinged claims that prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton “trafficked children” had himself been sent “to jail for child porn.”
The edgelord billionaire then followed up that post with a link to an NBC News article about former ABC News journalist James Gordon Meek pleading guilty to federal child porn charges. The article makes no mention that Meek ever reported on Pizzagate or any other QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories.
Why would that be? Because Meek never covered Pizzagate. It would appear that Musk is sharing a meme based on a fabricated New York Post headline that circulated online after Meek pleaded guilty, claiming that he was the one who personally “debunked” Pizzagate.
According to a Reuters fact-check, no such headline exists on the New York Post’s website, and none of the coverage of Meeks in the Post mentions Pizzagate.
Pizzagate first rose to prominence in the final months of the 2016 election after online conspiracists claimed that hacked Democratic emails contained clues of a secret Satanic child sex trafficking ring that was headquartered in the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza shop. The conspiracy theory eventually motivated a true believer to fire an assault rifle into the restaurant.
Much like QAnon, which also posits that the world’s elites run a secret pedophilia operation, Pizzagate has some roots in “blood libel.” According to the American Jewish Committee, blood libel is the false charge that Jewish people use “the blood of Christians for ritual purposes since the Middle Ages.”
While Musk has long been a proponent of fringe conspiracy theories, such as claims about the violent attack on Paul Pelosi or the Nazi-influenced mass shooting in Texas, he has come under intense fire recently over accusations that he and his platform are promoting antisemitism.
Earlier this month, the SpaceX founder agreed with a tweet accusing Jewish communities of pushing “hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” Musk was roundly condemned for invoking the “unvarnished” antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people are funding the annihilation of the white race in Western countries.
“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” the White House said about Musk’s tweet.
Following his promotion of the “Great Replacement” theory and Media Matters’ report, dozens of companies have suspended their advertising on the site. Musk, meanwhile, has responded by filing a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters, alleging the liberal media watchdog manipulated data—though the complaint itself largely confirms Media Matters’ reporting.
Musk has attempted to contain the fallout over the advertiser exodus by insisting claims that he’s antisemitic are “bogus” while asserting that concerns over the rise of antisemitism and hate speech on X are overblown. He’s also sued researchers who have reported that racist and antisemitic posts have exploded on the social media platform since he bought Twitter last year.
During his visit with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Monday, Musk was told that he had a “huge role because the platforms you lead have a large reservoir of hatred of Jews and antisemitism.”
The billionaire replied: “We need to do everything possible to stop the hate.”