Voodoo Doughnut Is at the Center of a Rising Far-Right Conspiracy Theory

A YouTube video claiming the famous Portland doughnut franchise is a front for child trafficking has sparked the hashtag #donutgate.

Voodoo Doughnut has become the latest target of a right-wing conspiracy theory.

The "Doughnutgate" theory claims that Voodoo, the internationally famous Portland doughnut franchise, is the front for a child trafficking ring.

The allegation is getting traffic on conspiracy websites like 4chan and 8chan, where anonymous users defend President Trump and oftentimes allege, without any evidence, that his critics are pedophiles and child traffickers.

There's not a clear reason why conspiracy theorists would target Voodoo, except that it is based in progressive Portland, a recent fixation of the right.

According to Media Matters, a journalism watchdog website, on Aug. 4, a man identified as Michael Whelan appeared on a YouTube show and during the course of an 80-minute conversation, claims to have attended a party at Voodoo co-owner Tres Shannon's Portland house where the sexual abuse of children was taking place.

The video currently has over 71,000 views and sparked the hashtags #donutgate and #doughnutgatea nod to #pizzagate, the widely publicized and discredited claim that high-ranking Democrats were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. In fact, during the interview, Whelan implied the two are connected.

Representatives from Voodoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the video, Whelan claims he fell in with a group of people connected to Voodoo after moving to Portland from Las Vegas. He alleges he was taken to a party at Shannon's house, where he saw signs of child trafficking. After expressing his "dissatisfaction" with the situation, Whelan says he's been besieged by "constant death threats." He also says he went to the authorities, but that his concerns were ignored.

(The part directly related to Voodoo starts around the 48 minute mark.)

Videos with titles such as "VOODOO DOUGHNUT PINK PILL PEDOPHILE SYMBOLS" and "What is #DonutGate #VoodooDoughnut ? Expanding The #PizzaGate Investigation" have existed online since late 2016.

Media Matters credits Whelan's outrageous claim and the video's virality to an endorsement from Isaac Kappy, an actor and frequent guest on Alex Jones' Infowars radio show who has claimed celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are involved in Hollywood pedophile rings.

The video has also spread to online conspiracy hubs like the message board 4chan, where one user has encouraged "Oregon bros" to spread a flyer reading, "CHILDREN BEWARE: DO NOT ENTER VOODOO DOUGHNUTS":

It it perhaps no coincidence that the Whelan interview was posted the day of the most recent Patriot Prayer rally.

Jones has supported the Vancouver-based far-right protest group and its leader, Joey Gibson, and devoted whole segments of his show to demonizing Portland.

Related: Right-Wing Marchers From Across the Country Have Declared Portland Enemy Territory to Conquer.

While Whelan's claims appear ridiculous, Media Matters points out that such recent conspiracy theories have had dangerous real-world consequences. In December 2016, a gunman opened fire at Comet Ping Pong, the restaurant implicated in the #pizzagate conspiracy, and the business received "hundreds of death threats," according to the owner.

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