Alex Jones -- a leading conspiracy theorist when it comes to gay frogs, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings, among others -- has latched onto a new one: He is now saying that the Wayfair conspiracy theory bouncing around the internet is “Pizzagate 2.0.”
On December 4, 2016, a gunman stormed into a neighborhood pizzeria down the street from my apartment in D.C. He was looking for a basement that he believed held captive children used in an elite sex trafficking ring. After threatening an employee and discharging his weapon (thankfully hitting no one), he would find no basement and, of course, no children. Shortly thereafter, he surrendered to police.
The pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong, is a favorite of the neighborhood. Far-right media personalities like Alex Jones, Jack Posobiec, Stephanie Hamill, and Mike Cernovich promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory after WikiLeaks released the emails of Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta, some of which contained references to Podesta ordering pizza. Message boards and people in far-right corners of the internet believed Podesta must be some sort of predator, and so an entire mythology of nonsense was born.
It turned out that the gunman was an Alex Jones listener, and Jones had personally told his audience to investigate the pizzeria. After lengthy litigation (and some scrubbing by Infowars), Jones issued an apology to Comet on his show -- and blamed other outlets.
In the years since, we’ve seen similar narrative play out again and again and again. The latest example has to do with online retailer Wayfair. Thanks to some odd prices and the usage of proper names for furniture on its website, some people have become convinced that Wayfair is engaged in an elaborate conspiracy of shipping children in the guise of selling pillows and furniture. (There are spinoffs of this main conspiracy theory, of course.)
The conspiracy theory has gone viral on Facebook and TikTok already.
The company has denied it, but people spreading this claim aren’t the sort to be persuaded by reality, let alone a statement.
Jones himself is engaging with the conspiracy theory, curiously calling it a “mockingbird” distraction and “Pizzagate 2.0” in a video from July 11. Jones’ reasoning is as follows: The Wayfair narrative is a real part of the conspiracy, but it’s meant to distract the masses from the actual trafficking given that it could be easily mocked; Jones alleges that the real conspiracy of child sex trafficking is happening elsewhere -- and that the Wayfair story is being pushed by someone “to bait you away from all the other real stuff.”
Jones also uses the backlash against him for Pizzagate conspiracy theories to say that Pizzagate and Wayfair are a sophisticated operation against the far right. In the middle of the video, Jones blames his crew for Infowars’ Pizzagate coverage, saying that he knew better and had warned his crew members against covering it before he left on a Cancún vacation, but they didn’t listen to him.