[EDIT: Quentin Hardy, the Assistant Tech Editor of the NY Times, who supposedly gets paid to do the job I/we generously did for him in this post, changed his Twitter Avi to a Pizza Hut sign after this article was published yesterday. https://twitter.com/qhardy/status/800884090060668928 Let him know that /r/pizzagate appreciates his quality journalism!]
The purpose of this thread is to pick apart the litany of factual errors, mischaracterizations, and fallacies that appeared in Cecilia Kang's article, "Fact Check: This Pizzeria Is Not A Child Trafficking Site" (New York Times, Nov. 21, 2016). Here's a link: http://archive.is/Nwn5e
Please do not post wild speculation and RUMINT in this thread. The goal here is to build an objective case that the editorial staff of the NY Times is guilty of some of the very same "fake news" tactics it's currently decrying. I'm going to list every factually problematic excerpt I found. Feel free to add any other errors below.
1) "All of them alleged something that made Mr. Alefantis’s jaw drop: that Comet Ping Pong was the home base of a child abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief, John D. Podesta."
STRAW-MAN ARGUMENT: Kang claims (no sources sited) that online investigators allege that the child abuse ring is "led by Hillary Clinton and John D. Podesta". I've seen hundreds of threads on reddit and 4/8chan, and I've seen very few people push the argument, that HRC and John Podesta are the "leaders" of anything. The vast majority of speculation so far has asserted that HRC and the Podestas are INVOLVED in a child abuse ring. This may seem like quibbling over semantics but to the normal NYT reader, "led by" is a far more extreme - and unbelievable - allegation than "involved in". Right off the bat, Kang insinuates without any evidence or quotes that the entire open-source investigation sound like a mob of hyperbolic, delusional conspiracy theorists.
2) "He [Alefantis] found dozens of made-up articles about Mrs. Clinton kidnapping, molesting and trafficking children in the restaurant's back rooms. The articles appeared on Facebook and on websites such as The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen, with one headline blaring: "Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the sick World of Washington's Occult Elite. None of it was true."
STRAW-MAN: Kang's use of sources in this passage is evasive, and also scrambles the chronology of events in the #Pizzagate scandal. When she mentions "dozens of made-up articles", she provides no specific examples or hyperlinks. Furthermore, she goes on to imply that ALL of these articles specifically identify Hillary Clinton as the individual who is going around personally kidnapping children. Any sane person would doubt such a story - but of course, that's not what the vast aggregate of investigators is claiming at all. Once again, Kang appears to be deliberately exaggerating and over-simplifying the allegations of Pizzagate in order to make its propagators look unserious.
MISLEADING BY OMISSION: Throughout the entire piece, Kang brings up ZERO historical examples of proven underage sex-trafficking rings that served (and were protected by) a network of rich and powerful elites. While neglecting to mention the Franklin Scandal, the Praesidio Scandal, or the Finders is not surprising (all three stories have been largely ignored by the NYT for decades), it is surprising that no mention is made of confirmed pedophile scandals tied to the Catholic Church (Spotlight won Best Picture last year ffs!), BBC host Jimmy Savile, or Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. There is also no mention of the Hollywood pedophilia ring allegations that have grabbed major headlines in the US over the past several years. By omitting all of these historical events and the completely justifiable public interest they have generated online, Kang provides no context for what motivates Pizzagate investigators beyond paranoia and a deep but vague gullibility to "fake news".
MISLEADING CHRONOLOGY: Kang commits a sleight-of-hand when she reports that Alefantis "looked online to unravel the accusations" right after he and his staff started receiving hate messages. Comet Ping Pong was first stumbled upon in the wee hours of November 4th. Alefantis' instagram and Facebook accounts started getting threatening messages within hours from overzealous idiots on 4chan.
The Vigilant Citizen article that Kang cites was posted on November 15th, ELEVEN DAYS after Alefantis was first "exposed" on 4chan and reddit. Thus, there's no way that Alefantis did a quick google search on November 4th and found the VC article.
If Kang had done a simple google search, she would've seen that on November 6th (within 48 hours of exposure), Washington City Paper published "Alt Right Conspiracy Theorists Obsess Over Comet Ping Pong", featuring interviews with "Pizza Party Ben" and James Alefantis: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/food/blog/20840980/alt-right-conspiracy-theorists-obsess-over-comet-ping-pong
^ Though the tone of this article is skeptical, it at least mentions Jeffrey Epstein, Correct the Record, and the potential use of "pizza" as a codeword for child sex in the Podesta Emails. The NYT article mentions none of these things, and their absence further warps the narrative to make pizzagate investigators look insane.
Her scrambling of the chronology helps morph the narrative so that it reinforces the "Fake News" meme currently being spread by the establishment media. This argument is what's fake. #PizzaGate did not spring out of "fake news", but social media forums.
3) "Mr. Alefantis’s experience shows it is not just politicians and internet companies that are grappling with the fake news fallout. He, his staff and friends have become a new kind of private citizen bull’s-eye for the purveyors of false articles and their believers. For more than two weeks, they have struggled to deal with the abusive social media comments and to protect photos of their own children, which were used in the false articles as evidence that the pizza restaurant was running a pedophilia ring."
MISCHARACTERIZATION/NO EVIDENCE: James Alefantis has no children. Most of the other Comet employees on instagram who post disturbing content (workinonmahnightcheese, Amanda Kleinman, and others) do not have children either. Furthermore, the evidence from instagram was not initially obtained or spread via "false news articles" but posted directly on 4/8chan and Reddit forums by a variety of anonymous users. It's interesting that Kang doesn't provide a links or screenshot of the many sexually suggestive and/or ultraviolent instagram pictures that were found on the accounts of Alefantis and his employees. I can fully understand not linking to any of the pictures featuring children (legal/ethical issues galore), but what about the other disturbing photos that feature overtly bizarre sexual/violent content? Did Kang not see the child coffin, the stacks of Euros and date rape drugs, the #killroom? Once again, the NYT Reader is expected to simply take Kang's word for it, and is given no opportunity to examine any of the "evidence" for themselves.
4) "The eatery, which seats 120, is a mash-up of red and white checkered tablecloths and modernist murals and paintings from friends of Mr. Alefantis."
MISCHARACTERIZATION BY OMISSION: Kang gives no description of what those "modernist" murals and paintings are. Most NYT readers have no objection to modernist murals - who would? But if she did describe them, she would have to acknowledge that one of the murals features happy, loving adults cradling severed heads. Further research verified that the painter of the mural has multiple works featuring people cradling severed heads: source: https://chemtrailsevilla.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/img_0770-e1479229991485.jpg?w=604&h=451 here's another painting by same artist: http://img.4plebs.org/boards/pol/image/1478/22/1478224865340.jpg