Laurance Rockefeller, John Podesta, and Chester Bennington are not related

By: Anurag Baruah
May 3 2023

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Laurance Rockefeller, John Podesta, and Chester Bennington are not related


The Verdict False

Publicly available data shows this claim is false. It extends from the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory linking Podesta to Rockefeller and Bennington.

Claim ID fe29daa1


In March 2016, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's then-campaign chair John Podesta's personal email account was hacked in a phishing attack. Wikileaks published these emails in October and November 2016 in the run-up to the U.S. presidential elections. Soon after, a conspiracy theory went viral that these leaked emails contained coded messages that revealed an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring involving top Democratic Party officials and U.S. restaurants. Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C, was accused as being one of the involved establishments, leading to the 'Pizzagate' conspiracy theory in later years. 

This has led to various other claims and counter-claims about Podesta. According to one such narrative, Podesta is the son of the late American businessman Laurance Rockefeller and the father of the late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington. The claim, which seems to have surfaced first in 2021, terms Podester as a 'pedophile' in reference to the 'Pizzagate' conspiracy theory connecting him with the other two men. Multiple posts making this claim have recently resurfaced on social media. A Twitter post making this claim has over 554,100 views. 

However, while Pizzagate is a conspiracy theory with no basis, the claim that Podesta is Rockefeller's son and Bennington's father is also false. 

In Fact

No credible news source has reported such a connection between the three men as claimed. 

An obituary for Rockefeller published in The New York Times stated that he had three daughters and one son, Larry Rockefeller. A photo of Larry Rockefeller and a short bio on the New York League of Conservation Voters website distinguish him from Podesta.  

An Illinois Senate Resolution mourning the death of Mary K Podesta, Podesta's mother, mentioned his father as John D. Podesta senior. Further, an obituary of John D Podesta Sr., published in 1980, mentioned John Podesta as his son. 

The Guardian published an obituary for the late vocalist Bennington on July 21, 2017, which named his father as Lee Russell Bennington. The obituary mentioned that Lee was "a police detective who often worked on child abuse cases." Another report by The New York Times mentioned Bennington's father as a "local police detective." A photo showing Bennington with his father distinguishes him from Podesta. 

The Rockefeller family has been connected with various other conspiracy theories; terming them as perpetrators of child sexual abuse is one of many.

The Verdict

There is no evidence backing the claim that Laurance Rockefeller, John Podesta, and Chester Bennington are related. The claim stems from an attempt to extend the connection of the 'Pizzagate' conspiracy theory from John Podesta to Laurance Rockefeller and Chester Bennington. Publicly available data points to the fact that they are not related at all. Therefore, we are marking the claim as false. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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