Last week, Musk wrote “You have said the actual truth” in response to a post from an X user claiming Jewish people were responsible for promoting “dialectical hatred against whites.” The X owner promoting the antisemitic conspiracy theory drew widespread backlash, including from the White House.
The following morning, Media Matters, a nonprofit progressive media watchdog, published a study showing that X had been placing ads for major companies alongside posts featuring neo-Nazi and antisemitic rhetoric. Advertisers like Apple, Disney, IBM, Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers Discovery have since pulled their ads from the platform..
Musk responded over the weekend by threatening a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters, and calling the nonprofit “evil.” As of Monday afternoon, no such lawsuit has been filed, although Musk is still posting about it, writing again on X that “Media Matters is Evil.” A user responding to Musk wrote that David Brock, the founder of the nonprofit, “was the Boyfriend of James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong Pizza, yes the Pizzagate restaurant. Alefantis, a pizza shop owner at that time, was on GQ’s 50 Most Powerful People in DC list.”
“Weird,” Musk replied.
Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor, was the target of a conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate that rose to prominence during the 2016 election cycle. The theory claimed that major Democratic Party figures, including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Campaign Chair John Podesta, were running a satanic child trafficking operation from within the pizza joint, and that instructions for pizza orders found in Podesta’s leaked emails were actually directives on how to order children.
The conspiracy theory has been widely debunked, but Comet Ping Pong was subjected to intense harassment by believers. One even shot up the restaurant in an attempt to free the nonexistent children being kept in the building’s nonexistent basement.
Pizzagate’s twisted remnants can still be found in the darkest corners of QAnon forums, the conspiracy theory it helped birth. That Musk would publicly engage with a user dredging it up speaks to the depths to which the owner of X has descended into conspiracy-laden, right-wing fever swamps. Musk also in May of this year claimed evidence that a mass shooter in Allen, Texas, held white nationalist beliefs was a “psyop” created by the media.
Media Matters president Angelo Carusone issued a statement on Monday addressing Musk’s campaign against the organization, which has drawn the attention of a Republican attorney general. “Elon Musk has spent the last few days making meritless legal threats, elevating bizarre conspiracy theories, and lobbing vicious personal attacks against his ‘enemies’ online,” Carusone wrote. “Even if he does not follow through with his threat to sue, the volatility of [his] actions reinforce why major brands are rightly skittish of partnering with X.”