Model Chrissy Teigen and musician John Legend had a run-in with Pizzagate conspiracy theorists on Twitter on Saturday night, and the celebrity couple has had it. Pizzagate, you will recall, was a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by right-wingers like Mike Cernovich that falsely alleged that Washington D.C.’s Comet Pizza was ground zero for an international child sex abuse ring. While alt-right figures with designs on respectability distanced themselves from Pizzagate once a conspiracy theorist shot up the restaurant, the diehards are still around, and they’ve only gotten worse. Teigan, who seems to have come to the conspiracy theorists’ attention after live-tweeting an eight-hour flight-to-nowhere on Dec. 26 (her plane returned to LAX because one of the passengers had no ticket), decided to speak out after Twitter user Liz Crokin, who describes herself as an investigative journalist, tweeted photos of the couples’ young daughter.
For people with the particular strain of referential mania that leads them to believe in Pizzagate, everything is a clue, and everything is connected. The hashtags Crokin used, #QAnon and #TheStorm, reference a conspiracy theory even more bizarre than Pizzagate: Just one facet of this extraordinary theory was the idea that a highly placed insider chose to leak details of an upcoming pro-Trump military coup through posts on 4chan. That coup was supposed to begin with the arrest of John Podesta on Nov. 3, which didn’t happen, but doomsday cults usually find a way to carry on even if the world doesn’t end. (The underlying psychology here does not seem that different from Louise Mensch’s tales of the Supreme Court Grand Marshall and whatever the hell @RoguePOTUSStaff was supposed to be: people like to hear that their enemies are about to be vanquished.) Anyway, Teigen made a valiant attempt to figure out what, precisely, Crokin thought was going on with her photos of her daughter, but logic doesn’t really have a place in the Pizzagate worldview:
Crokin deleted her original tweet, but still maintained that Teigen was at least child-sex-abuse-ring adjacent:
Readers who’ve spent any time following Pizzagate will not be surprised that Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović was about to make an appearance:
In any event, Teigen noticed that Twitter had verified Crokin, giving her daffy theories an air of legitimacy that was perhaps not wholly deserved:
Legend was equally unamused at Crokin’s accusations:
Writer Alexandra Erin gave Legend and Teigen a quick briefing on Pizzagate’s latest mutations (among other things, Pizzagaters now believe that a number of celebrities and politicians are wearing boots—in winter, mind you—to hide the ankle bracelets they’ve been forced to wear since being secretly arrested for child trafficking), and the couple seem to have decided to pursue legal action against Crokin:
Twitter, which has long had an abysmal record at keeping hate speech off its platform, very quickly removed Crokin’s blue checkmark, because the one thing that seems to consistently get the company’s attention is pissing off a celebrity. That didn’t stop Crokin or her followers from continuing to harangue Teigen and Legend: Crokin went so far as to suggest (while politely tagging Legend) that Teigen might be under government mind control through the CIA’s MKULTRA program.
Other possible CIA mind-control slaves, per Crokin, include Harvey Weinstein, Stephen Paddock, Jeff Bezos, and Miley Cyrus, which raises the question of why Twitter ever thought verifying her was a good idea to begin with. But the other thing about Crokin’s account is that she has nearly 50,000 followers. Twitter has done such a stellar job of building networks of angry, gullible conspiracy theorists that the rise or fall of any particular figurehead probably won’t make much difference to the internet, country, or species’ general levels of cruelty and stupidity. Still, good on Teigen and Legend for drawing a line. Let’s all hope against hope for a better 2018!