Fact Check: Journalist Charged With Child Pornography Did NOT Debunk 'Pizzagate' -- Other Journalists Did

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Journalist Charged With Child Pornography Did NOT Debunk 'Pizzagate' -- Other Journalists Did Fake Headline

Has a journalist who debunked the "pizzagate" conspiracy theory also been charged with child pornography? No, that's not true: the allegation was based on a faked screenshot of a non-existent New York Post headline. While former ABC investigative reporter James Gordon Meek was sentenced in September 2023 for possessing child sexual abuse material, he is not one of the journalists who refuted the pizzagate hypothesis.

The claim appeared in a post and video (archived here) on Instagram by Stephen Hilton on November 21, 2023, under the title "THE CLINTON'S Dungeon?" The post's caption said:

Disclaimer - I would NEVER harm myself. full video link in bio

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tue Nov 28 18:03:42 2023 UTC)

The video

The 43-second clip comes from a podcast by Stephen Hilton, an English recording artist, music producer and YouTuber. At the 23-second mark in the video, he lays out his case that purportedly involves Meeks:

This is harrowing. The guy who debunks the whole pizzagate 'conspiracy theory' [air quotes by Hilton] has just been arrested and charged with distributing phenomenally huge amounts of child pornography, which really puts a spin on this whole pizzagate thing, doesn't it?

The heavily edited clip on Instagram never mentions Meeks by name -- because it was removed -- but the podcast it came from does include it. The unedited version of what Hilton said comes 63 seconds into the video:

This is harrowing, harrowing to watch. So, I want to say that straight out of the gate.

The guy who basically debunks the whole pizzagate 'conspiracy theory' [air quotes by Hilton], James Gordon Meek, has just been arrested and being charged with distributing phenomenally huge amounts of child pornography, which really puts a spin on this whole pizzagate thing, doesn't it?

I mean if the guy in charge of debunking it is a pedo[phile], he's got a vested interest.

Fake headline

Meek's name became falsely linked to "pizzagate" due to a fake New York Post headline (archived here) making the rounds on social media. A screenshot of the post appears below:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Nov 28 22:53:33 2023 UTC)

No story with the headline "Award winning ABC journalist who 'debunked' pizzagate, pleads guilty in horrific child porn case" appears on the New York Post website (archived here). Additionally, a Google News search (archived here) shows no evidence that Meek debunked the conspiracy theory.

Meek was sentenced to 72 months in prison for transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material on September 29, 2023, a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the eastern district of Virginia said.


"Pizzagate" refers to a conspiracy theory that emerged during the 2016 United States presidential election. The theory falsely claimed that a child sex-trafficking ring involving high-profile individuals, including members of the Democratic Party, was being operated out of the basement of a pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C.

The conspiracy theory gained traction on social media and several internet forums. In December 2016, a man walked into Comet Ping Pong with a firearm, firing shots inside the restaurant. No one was injured and the gunman was apprehended.

There is no credible evidence supporting the existence of a child sex-trafficking ring at the pizza parlor or any involvement of political figures as claimed by the conspiracy theory.

Read more

Other Lead Stories debunks of claims about "pizzagate" can be read here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion