What in the World? No, Comet Ping Pong “does not sell or abuse children”. Obviously!!

comet
Photo by PoPville flickr user Bossi

“Dear PoPville,

What do you think of the recent craziness from AltRight Conspiracy Theorists targeting Comet Ping Pong? I just wish there was more folks could do counter the lies being spread online. The other day some guy was live periscoping from inside the restaurant. Feeding more into the conspiracies.”

Thanks to all who forwarded this morning’s disturbing article from the super successful New York Times:

Fact Check: This Pizzeria Is Not a Child-Trafficking Site

“None of it was true. While Mr. Alefantis has some prominent Democratic friends in Washington and was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, he has never met her, does not sell or abuse children, and is not being investigated by law enforcement for any of these claims. He and his 40 employees had unwittingly become real people caught in the middle of a storm of fake news.”

56 Comment

  • ThunderCheese

    I hear business is UP because of the fake conspiracy controversy. Good for them.

  • No amount of business replaces safety!

  • Good on the NYTimes for reporting on this accurately and unreservedely calling this “fake” news. There’s a bizarre and terrible tendency for news to feel like “balance” means giving equal credibility to entirely false allegations and the obvious truth. Even the City Paper article on this recently refrains from straight up calling these reports lies.

    • I’ll just leave this quote here as it perfectly sums up both the NYT article and this incident: “We are at a dangerous place in American culture where a good percentage of people aren’t distinguishing what is a real news source based on real reporting and fact-checking and only reinforcing pre-existing ideas they have”

  • justinbc

    Hyperbole as we know it died on November 8th, 2016. There is nothing you can say anymore that will surprise me.

  • Good god these people are horrible. Maybe we need to just turn the Internet off so all the crazies can’t spread their stupidity.

  • But UFOs do exist, I suppose.

  • I Dont Get It

    The Post had a great, and by great I mean sickening, article yesterday about two guys in their 20s writing fake news.

    • While the text of the story was unnerving to say the least, the picture of them sitting in the dark while writing fake news stories was somehow more disturbing. It showed an extreme level of casualness to the whole thing, which was made much worse by the fact that they look like 20 somethings and are causing 60 somethings to lose their collective minds.

  • Just in case anyone missed it there was a good article in the WaPo two days ago about the people who write these types of stories and profit from them.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/for-the-new-yellow-journalists-opportunity-comes-in-clicks-and-bucks/2016/11/20/d58d036c-adbf-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html

  • What a terrifying thing to happen to a small business. I feel so bad for the owner and his staff and their families, and I hope they all stay safe. How do you fight back against a mob of internet crazies who don’t care about their damage their lies do to real people?

    We’re in a scary place in this country.

      • What damage does it do exactly? Do you think anyone from DC is going to stop eating there?
        I highly doubt white nationalist neo-nazis (I refuse to us “alt-right”) make up their regular client base.
        So in the end, I think it ends up being advertising for them among those of us who would actually eat there.

        • Did you read the NYT article? The owner and employees are receiving death threats.

          • Ugh, no. I’ve been avoiding it. That sucks. Sorry.

          • Also people have apparently taken photos of children from the restaurant’s various social media pages and spread them all over the web with notes indicating they are “victims of abuse”

        • You don’t consider having your life threatened “damage”?

        • As someone mentioned above, just because the business may be doing well, that doesn’t quell the anxiety and fear for the owners, staff, and their families. Yes, it will probably die down in several weeks, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have lingering emotional and psychological effects.

          • It’s more than just anxiety and fear. The NYT article said that some employees and customers have hired lawyers to pull photos of their children at the restaurant off the internet. Reddit and 4Chan don’t seem to easily forget about this kind of thing. It could do lasting damage for a lot of people.

        • Yeah, it’s definitely about the death threats. I’m happy that the community is rallying and business is (supposedly) up in response, but this is like the nightmare scenario for a small business owner (bad reviews that won’t quit) times 1000 (fear for your life, your employees’ lives, their families, and your business). It’s awful and there’s no way to fight a bunch of internet trolls determined to keep spreading terrible lies about you.

          And as a member of the LGBT community, I can guarantee that it feels especially gross for a gay man to be accused of running a pedophilia ring, given the long history of spurious association between homosexuality and child abuse. I feel terrible for everyone at CPP. I hope this goes away soon and everyone is okay.

        • Also, it does long-term damage. Comet pingpong is on the tourist lists for family-friendly pizza joints, and while they have a strong local following, they will lose business in the long-run. Not to mention they fear for their lives.

        • Sorry, I’ve been avoiding reading the actual articles because the whole thing is kind of repulsive to me. I wrongly assumed it was “laugh at the idiots who made this up” and not death threats. That’s awful.

          • No, I get it – I’ve been avoiding most of the news myself lately and I’m much happier for it. I know I have to engage again soon, but right now I’m prioritizing my mental health, so totally understood!

  • Thank you PopVille for spreading the word! The staff at Comet has been bombarded for weeks with hate. Friends and neighbors have made these weeks bearable, thank you!!

    • They’ve been bombarded with hate from people across the country who will most likely never step foot in the place. I went the other day and it was very busy. I think they’re doing fine. Can’t think of much worse things than being accused of pedophilia though.

      • Just because the person isn’t standing in front of you doesn’t make a death threat any less terrifying. Don’t diminish this.

  • Ugh, the good people of DC band Heavy Breathing have been ensnared, too. I know Amanda, their front woman, personally (maybe you do too, as she’s a friendly and engaged longtime member of the DC arts community) and it’s really disturbing to read the threats coming their way. Their music and image lean heavily on a weirdo, outsider feel, which seems to be the basis of the vitriol…in a place as culturally dry as DC, I’ve always found them to be a welcome change.

    An explanation from their Facebook page is linked below:
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1227401980667694&id=127367090671194

    • Did you really need to dis DC in your comment? “Culturally dry”?

      • I live in and really like DC, and moved here years ago specifically for its museums and tight-knit arts culture. I am an active participant and have worked in some incredible museums and arts nonprofits here. That said, the price and nature of DC just don’t do much for the sort of creative, DIY-centric communities that thrive and foster weirdness in most other major US cities. Those people exist here, of course, but not in any obvious concentration. This has been my experience.

        • Ah, appreciate the follow-up. I do appreciate cities that foster weirdness and a thriving art community. Alas, the price of DC isn’t likely to decrease, unfortunately.

  • I literally can’t understand what people are seeing in this conspiracy theory. I’ve looked at all of the “evidence” and I can not for the life of me see any of it as nefarious. All of the videos and pages talk about “known symbols and code words” and I’m like “known by whom?!??!” It’s all completely nuts. This country seems to be going through a serious mental health crisis. People have completely lost their minds.

  • I went in to Comet the other day and asked for some pizza. They had the nerve to actually serve me pizza. Went next door to Besta and THE SAME THING HAPPENED! These fake news sites are really trying my patience.
    .
    The pizza is good though. Hate on Podesta all you want but leave the pizza out of it.

  • This is ridiculous. So anyone who emails about the possibility of hosting a fundraiser for a Democratic politician is at risk of being trolled?

    This is going to waste so much time and legal fees by those that own and work at Comet Ping Pong – not to mention the unending anxiety. How horrible!

    Comet Ping Pong is such a great place, too.

  • I saw the NYT article earlier and was hoping it’d pop up here. SO upsetting – Comet is a true gem of DC and particularly of its quieter neighborhood!

    It’s a great spot for food and music (and beer – always beer). It’s a little out of my way now but I’m going to make an effort to head there sometime after Thanksgiving. Hope the rest of the DC community is doing the same!

  • Honestly, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. But, I have a strong feeling that it’s someone he knows that got all of this started. Maybe they had a bad fallout and the other person wanted to get back at Mr. Alefantis? Who knows, but there’s a reason these “conspiracy theories” are out.

    • Why can’t you take the facts at face value? Your desire to assume “it’s someone he knows that got all of this started” is how conspiracy theories get started.

    • I can’t help but think it’s completely insane homophobic douche nozzles on the internet who see a liberal gay man who was previously married to a prominent democratic operative who has sort of “weird” taste in music and art and they automatically decided that being gay and being a little weird and being connected to politics means one must therefore be a pedophile who is running a liberal child trafficking ring.

      Also, weird is relative. I’m sure his art and tastes seem super strange to people from large swaths of this country, but none of it seems that strange to me.

    • DC isn’t that big of a town, and many of us do know what goes on behind closed doors and nothing is going on behind closed doors. It’s literally a pizza place that has music after dinner on the weekends. James has been part of the DC community for decades, and now he’s no longer safe because someone on the internet decided that he must be guilty of something if he hosted a democratic fundraiser, used to be married to a prominent democratic media person, and posted a photo of a kid taped with masking tape: the least sticky and most easily torn tape ever made. Worst of all is that his good friends, whose kids are in those photos, are seeing their children splashed all over the internet as victims of some sort of disgusting occult practice. Can you imagine?!?! How utterly horrifying for those parents to now be guilty by association when there is no guilt in the association in first place!

      • I’m sure there is nothing to these allegations. That said, publicly posting a picture of a little kid taped to a table (inside your restaurant?) is creepy. It’s not surprising that it might draw the suspicion of internet conspiracy theorists.

        • That girl’s friends taped her. Have you never taken a picture of your kids doing weird shit? Or know parents who do? My daughter put her baby brother under a laundry basket and put a bunch of books on top so he couldn’t get out. Before disciplining her and freeing him, i took a picture and posted it on isntagram cause kids do weird shit to one another and it’s hilarious. That pic is funny because kids run around the resto like they own the place and the joke is that they figured out a way to keep kids in their seats

          It’s fucking masking tape. Do you have any around? Take some and tape down your pinky finger. Tell me how hard it is to get your finger free.

          • to clarify: I didn’t post it to instagram immediately. I just snapped the picture. I took care of the situation and posted it after they were asleep.

          • I have a three year old
            The picture didn’t seem at all weird to me. Anyone who thinks a picture of a toddler doing silly things is evidence of child porn is beyond help.

        • You clearly don’t have kids. My daughter does ridiculous things all the time and I love sharing pictures of her on social media with my friends. The only thing that is creepy is taking a silly picture of a child that some friends shared with each other and posting it in 4chan. It’s really quite sad that people like these complete assholes mean that we all have to look over our shoulders all the time now. We have to worry about what picture might get reposted where, taken out of context, associated with lies. We have to stop having fun because someone out there is lying it wait to use our simple pleasures as weapons in a pointless war.

          I haven’t been to Comet in years since I dont live in the neighborhood any more but I am definitely going to go out of my way to show support now.

          • I do have a kid. (Just one though, so maybe that affects my perspective TBH.) I don’t post a ton of pictures of my small child in the public domain where they will potentially be available forever. (I even try to limit who views my Facebook.). I might hesitate to post any pics of her tied up or constrained, especially if other kids aren’t in the frame for context.

            Different strokes, I guess.