Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s a bizarre moral hysteria swept the nation. This phenomena has since been dubbed “Satanic Panic.” It’s a topic that Mike and I have explored throughout our time here at Sword and Scale. As some of you may recall, Mike covered a two-part episode on the disappearance of Johnny Gosch and the bizarre conspiracies that mixed and mingled with the story. We’ve both covered Satanic Panic and the toll it took on the people implicated in these scandals. We’ve also covered real cases of child abuse that have subsequently been tied to Satanic child abuse rings within the upper echelons of society after the fact by conspiracy theorists.

Needless to say, we have an ongoing interest with these stories and sorting out the truth of the matter. Naturally, when the story of “#pizzagate” began trending on Twitter, it immediately captured my interest. As someone who likes to read through conspiracy theories for fun, I was instantly reminded of past stories we’ve covered like the Franklin cover-up that was intertwined with Johnny Gosch’s disappearance and the fringe theories about the Jimmy Savile scandal in the UK.

I realize not everyone who reads our site is familiar with the story of #pizzagate that gained traction within alt-right fringe circles like Alex Jones and it’s difficult to find a concise summary of what led to these allegations of pedophilia within the Democratic party without taking a ride on the crazy train for a few hours. With mainstream media refusing to touch the story with a 10-foot pole, at best, what you’ll find is an incredibly politically biased account on the theory. Thankfully, there have been some bloggers who have attempted to sort out the facts – or at least the closest we’ll come to facts – surrounding #pizzagate scandal.

One such blogger, operating under the moniker “Ace of Swords,” has been able to compile one of the most compelling summaries on the scandal that I’ve seen to date. It’s important to stress that this blogger’s findings are not conclusive of any wrong-doings and that there is no concrete evidence to say for certain that members of the Democratic party are participating in these activities, but it is important for the sake of this story to explain the backstory of #pizzagate in order to understand what drove a man to walk into Comet Ping Pong Pizza and open fire.

#Pizzagate Explained

During the election cycle we saw the release of classified emails from the private server of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. As a result of this leak on the Clinton server, these leaks also extended to her campaign chairman John Podesta. Ironically enough, according to his Wikipedia entry, Podesta has been at the forefront of petitioning the government to declassify millions of classified files, particularly information related to UFOs.

It was through these leaked emails that people began noticing hundreds of references to pizza. Of course, it shouldn’t be seen as unusual that a man who loves to cook would make numerous references to food, and who doesn’t love pizza? It is clear that in most instances, Podesta and his contacts are referencing food, but there are a few email correspondences that the references seem odd and out of place.

Take this email for example:

RE: headcount for pizza
Are you sure this might not be a Jim Jones Kool-Aid event? Teekell, pls eat my slice.
—–Original Message—–
From: Robin Blackburn
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 9:42 AM
To: Chris Douglas Cc:
Subject: Re: headcount for pizza
Does the pizza offer include those of us who can’t make the meeting because we’re out here editing? ‘Cos if so, count me in.
This e-mail is color-coded in black and white and will combust in 30 seconds.
Chris Douglas wrote:
> Headcount!
> Who all is in the Austin office today who is going to want pizza? We
> only have one slice and we need to know how thinly to slice it…
> > Simply send a single response, filed, color-coded, double-sided and
> appropriately labeled, signed in triplicate and set on fire.

Of course, this email could easily be explained as a joke among friends. It should also be noted that this was not sent by Podesta, himself. It was an email stored on the same server and involves employees for Stratfor – a company that is essentially the CIA for business professionals.

There are other emails, including this one that suggests that Podesta left behind a handkerchief at an event.

RE: Did you leave a handkerchief
Date: 2014-09-04 11:06
Subject: RE: Did you leave a handkerchief
OK, thanks.
From: John Podesta
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 9:29 PM
To: Sandler, Susan
Subject: Re: Did you leave a handkerchief
It’s mine, but not worth worrying about.
On Sep 2, 2014 2:54 PM, “Sandler, Susan”
Hi John,
The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related. Is it yorus?
They can send it if you want. I know you’re busy, so feel free not to respond if it’s not yours or you don’t want it.
From: Kathryn Tate
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2014 10:04 AM
To: Sandler, Susan
Cc: Sandler, Herbert
Subject: You left something at the Field house
Susan & Herb
I just came from checking the Field house and I have a square cloth handkerchief (white w/ black) that was left on the kitchen island. Happy to send it via the mail if you let me know where I should send it. I also meant to inquire yesterday about the pillows you purchased. I can send them as well, if you let me know where they are in the house.
Safe travels to all

Podesta did not seem to be concerned with the handkerchief he admittedly left behind, but what does “a map that seems pizza-related” mean? Is it possible that “pizza” is a code word? Yes, I think the code part of the story shouldn’t be ruled out completely, but it doesn’t give anything to suggest that there is something unsavory going on with children.

There was also this email that stood out as strange and may have been what led many to suspect “pizza” was code for young children.

Re: Farmers L Update and Welcome Mat
Date: 2015-10-08 13:45
Subject: Re: Farmers L Update and Welcome Mat
we’re in, thanks for the invite.
Sent On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 9:26 AM, Tamera Luzzatto
> With enormous gratitude to Advance Man Extraordinaire Haber, I am popping
> up again to share our excitement about the Reprise of Our Gang’s visit to
> the farm in Lovettsville. And I thought I’d share a couple more notes:
> We plan to heat the pool, so a swim is a possibility. Bonnie will be
> Uber Service to transport Ruby, Emerson, and Maeve Luzzatto (11, 9, and
> almost 7) so you’ll have some further entertainment, and they will be in
> that pool for sure. And with the forecast showing prospects of some sun,
> and a cooler temp of lower 60s, I suggest you bring sweaters of whatever
> attire will enable us to use our outdoor table with a pergola overhead so
> we dine al fresco (and ideally not al-CHILLo).
> I am ccing Trudy to repeat the invite, and sending pining
> wishes-you-could-come to Rima, John P, and Laurie & Chris.
> Con amore, Mrs. Farmer L
> Tamera Luzzatto
> Senior Vice President, Government Relations

Is it a possibility that this was just a poorly-worded email? Were these kids just lovable scamps who delighted political dignitaries? Ace of Swords points out in their summary that young actors in Hollywood were often asked to attend parties by their agents where a brunt of the molestation and rape occurred in a pool or hot tub after some of the party’s other guests had left for the night, but again, it’s not enough evidence to suggest that Podesta and other individuals involved in the Democratic party are systematically raping young children.

While there is no reference to pizza in this particular email, it did lead those investigating the story to conclude that the “code” Podesta and other individuals spoke in must have been referencing the sexual abuse of children.

Running with this theory, someone came up with a translation of these words as follows:

Pillow – Prostitute
Cheese Pizza – Child pornography
Cheese – Child
Sauce – Orgy
Pasta – Boy
Hot Dog – Also boy
Ice Cream – Male prostitute
Walnut – Young girl’s genitalia or possibly indicating an African American girl.
Dominos – BDSM domination
Chicken – Young boy

In addition, the significance of Podesta’s handkerchief is explained as symbolic of BDSM – black indicating sadomasochism, but no reference to what white may indicate. (Remember: Podesta’s forgotten handkerchief was described as “white with black.”)

It was difficult to find anything outside of this particular conspiracy suggesting these words are or have ever been used in pedophile circles, with the exception of “cheese pizza.” Years ago, 4chan administrators were forced to closely monitor their message boards, particularly their /b/ board, because many users were using the site as a way to share child pornography (also called CP). As a running joke, users would post photos of cheese pizza in order to taunt the site administrators. Eventually cheese pizza became synonymous with child pornography among their users.


Is it likely that a 60-something-year-old campaign chairman spent his days trolling around 4chan’s /b/ board in hopes of getting his hands on child pornography, at least enough to be hip to their lingo? In all likelihood, probably not.

Of course, this story would not be complete without its Satanic element. Following the logic of the old “Satanic Panic,” you can’t have an ultra secret child abuse ring without Satan getting involved. This link came about in an email forwarded from John Podesta’s brother, Tony.

Fwd: Dinner
Subject: Fwd: Dinner
Are you in NYC Thursday July 9 Marina wants you to come to dinner Mary?
Sent from my iPhone Begin forwarded message:
From: Marina Abramovic
> Date: June 28, 2015 at 2:35:08 AM GMT+2
> Subject: Dinner
Dear Tony,
I am so looking forward to the Spirit Cooking dinner at my place. Do you think you will be able to let me know if your brother is joining?
All my love,

Current & Upcoming Exhibitions & Events
Feature, The New York Times, Marina Abramovic To Publish a Memoir in 2016<Http://>
Terra Comunal<Http://>, Marina Abramovic + MAI, SESC Pompeia, S?o Paulo
6 – November 22, Proportio, curated by Axel Vervoordt, Palazzo Fortuny, Venezia
June 13 – October 5, Solo Exhibition, Private Archaeology, MONA, Tasmania
24 – July 5, Marina Abramovic: In Residence, Kaldor Public Art Projects, Pier 2/3, Sydney
30, Keynote Address, Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay
7-19, Goldberg Variations with Igor Levit, Park Avenue Armory, New York

In the email Tony Podesta invited his brother to a dinner event hosted by performance artist Marina Abramovic in order to promote her upcoming book. The book, titled Spirit Cooking, did not include any actual recipes, but rather was a series of performance art pieces where she scribbled short anecdotes on the wall in pigs blood. Photographs of these performances would later be included her book. The dinner was to reward her kickstarter donors and has been described as a normal dinner with traditional foods. It should also be noted that there is no evidence to suggest John Podesta had even attended this dinner, making him only guilty by association.


The Pagan elements of this and other art pieces she has performed were said to have been bizarre rituals, and naturally must have involved children and Satanic sexual abuse. Like the Satanic Panic days of yore, Paganism or Pagan themes and Satanism are used interchangeably within this theory, with no real concern for the fact that Pagans are typically nature worshipers and that Satanist are really just self-concerned atheists. Both formal belief systems hold children in the highest regard and consider children to be the most powerful and purest creatures on Earth.

By now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with Comet Ping Pong Pizza. As chairman of the Clinton campaign, Podesta was often expected to attend various DNC fundraisers, including fundraisers for President Obama. One such fundraiser was set to be held at none other than the now infamous Comet Ping Pong Pizza located in Washington D.C..

Re: Comet Ping Pong and OBAMA…and Podesta?.
Date: 2008-09-28 01:12
Subject: Re: Comet Ping Pong and OBAMA…and Podesta?.
Awesome. Let’s plan. -James
…sent from handheld…
On Sep 27, 2008, at 10:22 PM,
“John Podesta”
> I can probably get there around 8:30. Love to do somethind after
> politics and prose. Catch up on that early in the week.
> On 9/27/08, James A (Personal)
> John,
Hello. Some young lawyer type friends of mine are hosting an Obama
> Fundraiser at Comet Ping Pong on Thursday Night and then watching the
> debate. Should be about 150 people and they are raising between 25
> and 35 thousand dollars. Would you be willing to stop by around 8
> o’clock or so and make a little speech. They (and I) would be
> thrilled to have you of course. I understand if you are not
> available.
> Also, I saw that you are reading at Politics & Prose soon. What can
> we do afterward? Would you like to have a dinner at my places?!?
> Big or small. What do you think?
See you soon.
> Yours, James Alefantis

James Alefantis is the owner of Comet Ping Pong Pizza and, according to GQ Magazine, the humble pizza shop owner also happens to rank among the top 50 most influential people in Washington. Those investigating the #pizzagate scandal decided to dig more into Alefantis’ background as well as his place of business.

Alefantis’ public Instagram account (which he now has set to private) featured what some may consider to be strange images and bizarre comments. Here are a couple of the images in question:




It may be easy to brush some of these images off as having innocent intentions behind them, but the story does get slightly stranger. Again, Ace of Swords was able to dig up interviews with Alefantis which seem to contradict one another. In an article published in Metro Weekly, Alefantis describes how he collects fresh tomatoes while they’re in season, prepares pizza sauce, and then cans and stores the leftovers in the restaurant’s basement for use when locally grown tomatoes aren’t available. It isn’t unusual for restaurants to store things in their basement, in fact, it’s almost expected, but Alefantis was later interviewed by the BBC about the #pizzagate scandal and was quoted as saying something very different about the basement at Comet Ping Pong Pizza.

“‘They ignore basic truths,’ Alefantis tells BBC Trending. For instance, the conspiracy supposedly is run out of the restaurant’s basement. ‘We don’t even have a basement.'”

So is it used to store supplies or does it not exist? And why would someone lie about something most people would expect to be in a restaurant?

Again, these claims aren’t indicative that Satanic child sex abuse is occurring in Washington, nor does it implicate Comet Ping Pong Pizza is guilty of any wrong-doing. These inconsistencies and connections are enough to perhaps raise an eyebrow at, but one man took the theories seriously enough to walk into the pizza shop with guns ablazing.

Comet Ping Pong Shooting

According to documents obtained by The New York Times, a man from South Carolina traveled to Washington D.C. in order to conduct his own investigation on Comet Ping Pong Pizza after reading the conspiracy theories circulating online. Convinced that the pizza shop had been harboring child sex slaves, Edgar Maddison Welch walked into the family-friendly restaurant and began waving a gun at some of the restaurant’s employees and customers.


Welch fired an AR-15 rifle inside the restaurant at the floor, successfully clearing out the establishment. Customers and employees ran to other businesses in the area to seek safety and the businesses went into lockdown mode. No one was harmed while Welch spent nearly an hour inspecting the inside of Comet Ping Pong Pizza.

Police and SWAT teams swarmed the 5000-5100 block of Connecticut Avenue, where the pizza shop is located. The suspect surrendered peacefully when he reached the conclusion that there were no child sex slaves being stored away in the restaurant.

Since the story of #pizzagate broke on the internet, the restaurant and other area businesses have been inundated with hundreds of death threats. Many mainstream media sources were quick to point out that it was the fault of the fringe news groups who perpetuate these sensationalized stories, with little if any facts to back them up.


Alefantis was personally involved in asking sites such as Reddit, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and others to remove links to these articles. Some of these sites complied with Alefantis’ request, throwing more gasoline on the fire as rumors continued to spread that key social media companies had been involved in the cover-up.

The Social Ramifications

This case comes as there’s been a call for a crackdown on “fake news sites,” such as Alex Jones’ Infowars and broadcasting groups like it. Unfortunately, if there’s anything that the Clinton email leaks have taught us, is that someone needs to be watching the watchdogs. Who determines what is considered real and what is considered fake news? This suggestion could potentially open up a can of worms that could have far greater implications than if we allowed these sources to exist.

In the past we have covered stories that were very much considered conspiracy theory at one time, such as key players in Hollywood molesting children and Jimmy Savile sexually assaulting children inside the BBC studios. Had it not been for the hard work of independent journalists, these stories would still be considered conspiracy theories by the mainstream.

While these other cases did turn out to be true, that does not automatically mean that the Democratic party keeps strange bedfellows, or that Comet Ping Pong Pizza is the de facto epicenter of a worldwide cabal of perverts. However, knowing what we do know about cases like this, isn’t it better that someone’s out there investigating these claims, even if these claims later turn out to be completely unfounded or inconclusive?

It certainly doesn’t seem like Jones or anyone else of his ilk intended for anyone to attempt to injure people while breaking this story, regardless of how sensational and ridiculous his reporting style is. If there’s one thing that should be made crystal clear after this incident, it’s that these sensationalist news agencies do need to take more responsibility for what they report and ensure that the stories they cover convey a greater degree of accuracy. Failure to do so could very well lead to a complete shutdown of independent journalism as we know it, and the truth behind some of these stories we currently consider to be conspiracy theories may never see the light of day.