Alex Jones—the barrel-chested don of the modern day conspiracy theory movement—did something completely out of the ordinary this week.
Jones didn't take his shirt off and scream that Hillary Clinton worships the devil and smells like sulpher (that was so 2016), no, in something far more out of character, Jones got serious and apologized for his role in pizzagate.
This is a man who has backed down from almost nothing in his time as the fearless leader of Infowars—from inspiring hate mail sent to Sandy Hook parents to calling the Quebec mosque massacre a false flag, Jones typically stands his ground—not this time, though. This time, in a pre-recorded video package aired on Friday, Jones went full out in saying he was wrong.
While the Joneses of the conspiracy world have backed off, the diehards are still going full bore. The day after Jones issued his apology, a contingent (read: dozens) of the true believers made their way to Washington to try and prompt President Trump to look into it.
"The elite have failed to cover up their sad world," wrote the new pizzagate king David Seaman in a tweet Saturday. "Today we make our voices heard. Pedogate [the new rebranded term for pizzagate] is real and we demand answers."
For those of you people who live full, rich lives and don't yet know what pizzagate is (you lucky, lucky folks) here's a quick catch up. The term came to light after Democratic party emails were leaked and some fun folks online started noticing what they thought to be pizza-based "code words" in the emails. This of course convinced these sleuths that there was a pizza-based pedophilia ring in DC that involved all sorts of government power brokers.
The pizzagaters started focusing on a man named James Alefantis and his pizza shop, Comet Ping Pong, because of several mentions in the emails. Jones and his theorist flunkies, alongside many, many YouTubers, fanned the flames of this theory and, at times, suggested people they should investigate it themselves—some people, as they always do, took this too far.
A man named Edgar Welch was one of the people who let pizzagate rot his brain. The 28-year-old travelled to Washington DC from North Carolina. With a rifle in hand he stormed Comet Ping Pong in an attempt to investigate it and fired three shots into the air. This, thankfully, was the final straw for many people and, other than the die hards, theorists started slowly backing away from the notion.
In the apology, Jones says that the lawyers of James Alefantis, the man behind Comet Ping Pong, sent him a letter asking him to apologize for his comments. Jones does just that and outright says the narrative around pizzagate was "incorrect" and that apologizing was "the right thing to do."
"To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis, nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking as was part of the theories about Pizzagate that were being written about in the media outlets and which we commented upon," Jones says.
"I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees."
Repeatedly in his apology Jones distances himself from the theory and throws shade to other news outlets who were the real bad guys—but still, the man apologized. The Chicago Tribune talked to Alefantis who said he was pleased with the apology but that it does nothing to mitigate the harm done to him, his family, or his business and that he "continue[s] to evaluate our legal claims."
This, being Infowars and Alex Jones, has of course became meta with media folks and conspiracy theorist both taking the time to come up with theories on why the surprise apology came about—many believe it was prodded by a threatened lawsuit hanging over his head. The pizzagaters meanwhile believe Jones is being forced to do this. Seaman, made a response video which he posted to YouTube in which he says "Alex Jones did what he had to do."
"It's a disgrace and it's unfortunate that Alex Jones has chosen to back away from this story," says Seaman. "What do they have on him, that the day before the national protest against pizzagate and pedogate, he has to issue a public apology?"
Oddly enough, the potatoman's reckoning with a false narrative wasn't the only reason that pizzagate was in the news this week. For starters, Welch pleaded guilty on Friday to two charges for when he fired in Comet Ping Pong. The charges in question are a federal charge of transporting firearms and ammunition across state lines and a local charge of assault with a dangerous weapon—both carry maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Furthermore, the day after Jones' apology a national pizzagate demonstration will be taking place on Lafayette Square in front of the White House. The demonstration calls upon pizzagaters to show up and demand the government investigate their claims. A few dozen people showed up with signs and set up a stage for speeches.
"Protect god's children. Investigate pizzagate," chanted one rhyme-challenged woman with a tambourine.
David Seaman, one of the organizers, gave a speech where he said he still believes in the theory and wants accountability and justice for pizzagaters. At the end of his talk, Seaman led the group in prayer.
"God, please grant our country the strength to deal with this crisis," he said to the crowd while kneeling on the stage. "Please bring swift justice to those who are involved and please allow our societies to heal."
Just because Alex Jones has bowed out, for these folks pizzagate is not yet over—not even close. The paranoid genie is out of the bottle, and no single apology is putting it back in.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.