The music world suffered a tragic loss when Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was found dead in Detroit in May, having apparently committed suicide by hanging in his hotel following a Fox Theatre gig after taking too many anti-anxiety pills. Fans were left reeling, and friends and family expressed shock and disbelief that the successful rocker would choose to end his own life with seemingly no warning.
But what if Cornell didn't commit suicide? What if he was actually murdered because he was on the verge of uncovering Pizzagate, the (widely discredited) conspiracy theory that alleges Washington, D.C., pizza parlor Comet Ping Pong is actually a front for a pedophile sex ring?
It sounds crazy, but apparently not crazy enough for The Detroit News, which pursued the theory in a story published Monday with the understated headline "Chris Cornell death probe leaves some unsatisfied." The story brings to light alleged inconsistencies in the official account of Cornell's death, most of which come from Pizzagate truther Randy Cody, who runs a blog called The Metal Den — which frankly looks like one of the fake websites on Law and Order:
Although The Detroit News notes that Washington police say that Pizzagate is “fictitious,” they then go ahead and hand the floor over to Cody. The premise of Cody's theory, based on an alleged unnamed source close to Cornell, goes like this: Cornell, who along with his wife created the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation for neglected children, was killed because he was about to expose the identities of Pizzagate pedophiles named in a "black book." Cody points to gaps in the official account of the timeline of Cornell's death, along with unverified Detroit police scanner audio he obtained that mentions a head wound.
Also, there's this: a lone sentence that states that "a psychic has been contacting police, giving them advice about where they should focus their investigation." There is no further mention of the psychic. We honestly felt like we were reading the Weekly World News for a minute.
We reached out to managing editor Gary Miles to ask why The Detroit News would give credence to a bogus conspiracy theory or even talk to Cody at all. Here's what he said:
I’m not in a position to question his honesty, but I think it’s fair to call Randy Cody among the most outspoken people who suggest that there’s more to Chris Cornell’s death than the official investigation revealed. If he didn’t die of his own hand, a curious reader might ask why Cornell would have been killed? As well as giving more insight into Cody’s views, we felt it necessary to answer that question and provide the official response to that theory. How much space to devote to any given subject is always a judgment call, but I won’t get any further into the internal discussions than that.
The promulgation of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory — which again, has been debunked — has had dangerous consequences. In December, a gunman opened fire at Comet Ping Pong, believing the pedophile sex ring to be real.