Elon Musk continued Tuesday to promote a debunked conspiracies theory, posting, and then deleting, a meme posted on X that referred to an extreme, right-wing claim which sought to link members of the Democratic Party to child abuse.
Musk wrote, “Does Musk seem at least a bit suspicious?” alongside a meme drawn from the TV series “The Office” which included fake dialog superimposed on images showing a character arguing “Pizzagate’s real.” This was a reference to an internet conspiracy theory that gained popularity in 2016 and culminated in a North Carolina native’s setting fire in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. NBC News reviewed this post before it was removed.
Musk responded to the first post with a link to a NBC News article about an ABC News reporter pleading guilty on federal charges of child pornography. NBC News was unable to locate any content related pizzagate that the ABC News journalist had published on his author archive page.
X didn’t immediately respond to a comment request.
Musk has replied to tweets about pizzagate four more times since Nov. 20. These posts are the latest iteration of a debunked conspiracy theory that focused on unfounded allegations that journalists were involved in the conspiracy theory.
Musk is still embroiled in controversy over an X-post he made this month, in which he endorsed an antisemitic conspiracies theory. He has since denied that he is antisemitic. He visited Israel and met with government officials including Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mike Rothschild is an author of several books on the recent rise of extreme conspiracy theories. He said that the version of Pizzagate Musk is promoting differs from the original conspiracy theory which inspired the 2016 shooting and is more expansive.
This theory was based on the false assertion that the Comet Ping Pong Pizza restaurant operated a child-trafficking ring. This claim has never been proven.
Rothschild stated that “Now, it’s code for ‘bad things elites do to kids’.”
He said that promoting it was a serious risk, even if the man thought it was a joke. He’s exposing a lot more people, who didn’t get red-pilled over pizzagate in 2016, to antisemitism or conspiracy theories.
A fake New York Post headline was circulated to claim that the journalist was involved in “debunking”, pizzagate.
Musk used a similar headline to describe a journalist that was also the subject of his posts. This journalist was featured in three posts Musk made in response to pizzagate. He was detained this month for possessing and transmitting material containing child sexual abuse. There’s no indication he played a key role in the debunking of pizzagate.
Musk expressed shock over the allegations in his replies. In one of his posts, he wrote that “any reporter this horribly evil is obviously not to be trusted.”
Musk has been criticizing journalists and media outlets since years. He has now become more combative towards the media and organisations he believes to be his enemies.
He filed Media Matters for America on Nov. 20, claiming that the posts by the outlet, reporting on antisemitic and ads on the platform, were maliciously designed to harm X’s revenues.
In a press release, Media Matters’ President Angelo Carusone stated that he supports the work of the organization and called the lawsuit frivolous.