QAnon followers have become more divorced from reality since the Capitol riots as some are targeted by extremists who try to radicalize them further.
By Ben Collins
Liesa Norris got a panicked phone call Monday from her brother. He told her to buy a ham radio. The radio, he explained, would be one of the few ways they could communicate once President Donald Trump launched his plans to take permanent power. "We were dancing around the subject, and then he just brought up that on the 20th, you know, the truth is going to come out," Norris said. "He was just going on and on about how we needed to have ham radios because we're not going to be able to talk on regular phones and everything is going to be dark." Trump has no such plans. But in the fractured QAnon community, which has turned to a variety of smaller messaging apps and YouTube to keep spreading conspiracy theories, evidence-free reports of a nationwide blackout and impending martial law Wednesday have become a last stand for true believers that Trump will be president after Inauguration Day. NBC News reviewed the social media accounts of Norris' brother, part of a sea of QAnon accounts that have become increasingly divorced from reality since the Capitol riot. Most of the accounts have expressed a belief that Trump will declare martial law and execute Democrats on Inauguration Day as part of the cult's long-awaited doomsday. more...
By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
(CNN) The FBI on Monday alerted other law enforcement agencies that QAnon adherents discussed acting as National Guard soldiers in Washington to try and infiltrate President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, according to The Washington Post. The FBI, in an intelligence report obtained by the Post, said it monitored individuals downloading maps of sensitive areas around Washington and talking about how those locations could be utilized to penetrate security, the Post reported. The intelligence report warned that QAnon members and "lone wolves" indicated they plan to travel to Washington for Biden's swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, the Post said. "But the intelligence briefing did not identify any specific plots to attack the inaugural events" that would be similar to the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol, which some QAnon members participated in, the Post said. The FBI noted that it detected "suspicious traffic" on the communication systems used by some participants in the January 6 Capitol attack -- but "nothing that points to any specific action," according to the Post. more...
Until last week, too many in the Republican Party thought they could preach the Constitution and wink at QAnon. They can’t.
by Ben Sasse
Eugene Goodman is an American hero. At a pivotal moment on January 6, the veteran United States Capitol Police officer single-handedly prevented untold bloodshed. Staring down an angry, advancing mob, he retreated up a marble staircase, calmly wielding his baton to delay his pursuers while calling out their position to his fellow officers. At the top of the steps, still alone and standing just a few yards from the chamber where senators and Vice President Mike Pence had been certifying the Electoral College’s vote, Goodman strategically lured dozens of the mayhem-minded away from an unguarded door to the Senate floor. The leader of that flank of the mob, later identified by the FBI as Douglas Jensen, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a red-white-and-blue Q—the insignia of the delusional QAnon conspiracy theory. Its supporters believe that a righteous Donald Trump is leading them in a historic quest to expose the U.S. government’s capture by a global network of cannibalistic pedophiles: not just “deep state” actors in the intelligence community, but Chief Justice John Roberts and a dozen-plus senators, including me. Now Trump’s own vice president is supposedly in on it, too. According to the FBI, Jensen “wanted to have his T-shirt seen on video so that ‘Q’ could ‘get the credit.’” more...
By Dan Cancian
A former schools therapist has been charged with multiple criminal counts over the storming of the U.S. Capitol after she quit her job, citing several conspiracy theories as the reason behind her decision. Christine Marie Priola was photographed at Vice President Mike Pence's desk during the riots that erupted in Washington, D.C. on January 6 and left at least five people dead, including a police officer. Holding a placard that read "THE CHILDREN CRY OUT FOR JUSTICE", the 49-year-old was photographed standing next to a fellow protesters who sat on the Vice President's seat in the Senate Chamber after the mob stormed the heart of U.S. democracy. more...
Valerie Gilbert posts dozens of times a day in support of an unhinged conspiracy theory. The story of this “meme queen” hints at how hard it will be to bring people like her back to reality.
By Kevin Roose
Every morning, Valerie Gilbert, a Harvard-educated writer and actress, wakes up in her Upper East Side apartment; feeds her dog, Milo, and her cats, Marlena and Celeste; brews a cup of coffee; and sits down at her oval dining room table. Then, she opens her laptop and begins fighting the global cabal. Ms. Gilbert, 57, is a believer in QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Like all QAnon faithful, she is convinced that the world is run by a Satanic group of pedophiles that includes top Democrats and Hollywood elites, and that President Trump has spent years leading a top-secret mission to bring these evildoers to justice. She unspools this web of falsehoods on her Facebook page, where she posts dozens of times a day, often sharing links from right-wing sites like Breitbart and The Epoch Times or QAnon memes she has pulled off Twitter. On a recent day, her feed included a rant against Covid-19 lockdowns, a grainy meme accusing Congress of “high treason,” a post calling Lady Gaga a Satanist and a claim that “covfefe,” a typo that Mr. Trump accidentally tweeted three years ago, was a coded intelligence message. more...
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has warned that the QAnon conspiracy theory movement is destroying the GOP in a blistering op-ed for The Atlantic. In the article, Sasse describes how devotees of the movement played a prominent role in the Capitol's January 6 riots. "The violence that Americans witnessed—and that might recur in the coming days—is not a protest gone awry or the work of "a few bad apples." It is the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice," writes Sasse. He praises Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman for luring a mob led by a man wearing a QAnon shirt away from a chamber where senators and Vice President Mike Pence were present during the unrest. more...
By Michael Warren, CNN
Washington (CNN) Donald Trump may be leaving the White House in a few days, but the umbrella of conspiracy theories he inspired is only just arriving in Washington. The chief theory known as QAnon -- that the US government is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles only Trump can expose -- began nearly four years ago as a fringe movement in the dark corners of the internet. Now QAnon has adherents in positions of power within the Republican Party and in the halls of Congress. The January 6 domestic terror attack on the US Capitol was the violent manifestation of that movement and its attendant theories -- including that the 2020 election was stolen. Thousands of its adherents, steeped in years of conspiracy theories espoused by Trump, stormed the Capitol ready for violence -- seemingly certain they were the ones liberating the country. Many displayed clothing and paraphernalia associated with the movement. One of the more conspicuous rioters, wearing a horned helmet and carrying a six-foot spear, is known online as the "QAnon Shaman." "There is a violent anarchy to QAnon that is baked into it," said Mike Rothschild, the author of a book examining and debunking some of the most prominent conspiracy theories. How deep into the GOP's infrastructure QAnon has penetrated is an open question. So too is how Trump's departure from the presidency and banishment from most social media will affect the reach of conspiracy within the Republican Party. more...
*** More bulls*** from the rabbit Republicans, Biden is not even in office so he could not have abused his power. ***
By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com
Newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has said she plans to file articles of impeachment against Joe Biden on the first full day of his presidency, alleging 'abuse of power.' Greene - a conspiracy theorist who follows QAnon and who was a 9/11 truther - announced the provocative move in an interview with Newsmax on Wednesday night, insisting it was not merely symbolic, despite the futility of her plan with Democrats controlling the House. 'We cannot have a president of the United States that is willing to abuse the power of the office of the presidency and be easily bought off by foreign governments, foreign Chinese energy companies, Ukrainian energy companies,' Greene said. 'So on January 21 I will be filing articles of impeachment on Joe Biden,' added Greene, a Georgia Republican with a history of touting conspiracy theories, and an ardent Trump loyalist. She and Lauren Boebert, who has also previously spouted QAnon claims are being nicknamed the Qaucus by critics. more...
By Reuters Staff
(Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc on Monday said it was working to remove some QAnon products from its online marketplace, citing policies that prohibit offensive items or other inappropriate content. The world’s largest online retailer drew scrutiny for having apparel with QAnon insignia and related books up for sale days after QAnon followers joined last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead. QAnon backers have pushed conspiracies on social media based on web postings from the anonymous “Q,” citing insider knowledge of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. These include the baseless claim that Trump secretly is fighting a cabal of child-sex predators, among them prominent Democrats and figures in Hollywood. The action by Amazon follows a decision to stop hosting the web content of Parler, a social network used by some supporters of Trump. The company alleged that Parler had violated the terms of service of its cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), for failing to deal with an increase in violent social media. Parler sued AWS on Monday in response. more...
The calls for freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert’s resignation grow louder
By David Edwards
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a gun-toting supporter of the QAnon movement, is facing backlash after she was accused of live-tweeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) location during the attack on Capitol Hill last week. Boebert shared the tweet soon after President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol with deadly results. more...
By Rebecca Speare-Cole
The clip of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ranting against QAnon has now been watched more than two million times. The Infowars host, who has previously pushed QAnon-based conspiracy theories, denounced them in an angry tirade during his show last week, which quickly went viral on Twitter. The video has now been watched more than 2.1 million times on Twitter alone and has also been shared widely across the social media platform. It comes after supporters of the conspiracy theory, which believes Donald Trump is waging a secret war against high-profile Satanic pedophiles, were among the crowd who stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.
During his show on Saturday, Jones cut off his Q-affiliated phone-in guest and began railing against QAnon to the point where he breaks character and starts laughing. In the clip, Jones shouts: "Q tells this stuff and all of it's lies," he says before telling the guest that he is lying and is "full of s***." He continues: "Because every god damn thing out of you people's mouths doesn't come true. And it's always 'oh, there's energy,' 'oh, now we're done with Trump.' You said he was the messiah! You said he was invincible! You said that it was all over. That they were going to Gitmo and now that he's part of a larger thing of Q. more...
By Ruth Styles In Phoenix, Arizona, For Dailymail.Com
The ‘QAnon Shaman’ is a failed actor who lives with his mom, believes spiral signs are an ‘FBI pedophile code’ and drives a battered Hyundai car plastered with conspiracy slogans, DailyMail.com can disclose. 33-year-old Jacob Angeli Chansley is one of the MAGA rioters wanted by DC police for his part in storming the Capitol building on Wednesday. Photos of Chansley wandering through the Senate debating chamber while dressed in a horned furry hat and with his face painted red and blue went viral. He was part of a Trump supporting mob, that also included Proud Boys and white supremacists, who broke into the building in a bid to stop lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s election win.
Four protesters died during the riot – including one woman shot dead by cops – while a deputy was killed after being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher. Now DailyMail.com can reveal that Chansley has been living with his mother Martha, 56, since January 2019 when he was booted out of his $899-a-month apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, owing $1,247 in rent arrears. The 33-year-old has no job and, say neighbors, is often seen wandering the streets near her $199,000 Glendale home dressed in his horned shaman get-up. Another neighbor, who asked not to be named, said he often sees Chansley dancing on the roof of his mother’s home – describing it as ‘bizarre’. more...
Jacob Anthony Chansley, known as Jake Angeli, is in custody on charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct. Mr Chansley, who calls himself the QAnon Shaman, is allegedly the man pictured with a painted face, fur hat and horns inside Congress on Wednesday. Donald Trump faces another impeachment charge for his role in the unrest. Democrats accuse the president of encouraging the riots, in which five people died. The FBI has been appealing to the public to help bring the assailants to justice. more...
The past 72 hours have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Trump supporters — especially the millions who have bought into the web of online conspiracies that fall under the umbrella of QAnon. Ever since a violent mob, including some with ties to the cultlike Q movement, invaded the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election, Q believers have been trying to reconcile what did — and didn’t — happen in Washington this week with their own conspiracy-ridden world view.
Did the bombshell evidence they had been promised that the election had been stolen really exist? If so, why has it still not been released? Did Trump actually concede after months of insisting the vote had been rigged, or was there a secret message hidden in the video statement put out by the White House Thursday night? Was that even really Trump in the video? And what will happen now to the ring of Satanic pedophiles that Trump was supposed to destroy? For three years Q followers have been telling one another to “trust the plan.” But the plan, whatever it is, doesn’t seem to be working. more...
*** Trump the conspiracy nut in the White House. ***
The call offered a look at just how much Trump is now relying on some of the most outlandish theories from obscure corners of the internet to make his case for election fraud.
By Ben Collins, Brandy Zadrozny and Jane C. Timm
President Donald Trump cataloged a series of false conspiracy theories during an hourlong call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday in which he sought to overturn the state's election results, and they were familiar to anyone following the far fringes of the internet. Trump floated fragments of several baseless conspiracy theories that were primarily pushed by QAnon followers over the last two months, including a widely debunked theory about voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems.
The wide-ranging slew of theories, spawned on extremist forums like 4chan, were repeatedly referred to by Trump as “rumors” that are “trending on the internet.” He claimed they were reasons Raffensperger should “re-examine it [the election] with people that want to find answers.” And while Trump has embraced conspiracy theories for much of his tenure as president, Saturday's call offered a look at just how much he is now relying on some of the most outlandish theories from obscure corners of the internet to make his case for election fraud. more...
A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll. Forty percent of respondents said they believe the coronavirus was made in a lab in China even though there is no evidence for this. Scientists say the virus was transmitted to humans from another species. And one-third of Americans believe that voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election, despite the fact that courts, election officials and the Department of Justice have found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the outcome.
The poll results add to mounting evidence that misinformation is gaining a foothold in American society and that conspiracy theories are going mainstream, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This has raised concerns about how to get people to believe in a "baseline reality," said Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos. "Increasingly people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn't have any basis in reality or fact," Jackson said. "What this poll really illustrates to me is how willing people are to believe things that are ludicrous because it fits in with a worldview that they want to believe." more...
From a Trump supporter arrested for allegedly issuing an eerie warning similar to the one before the bombing in Nashville to QAnon diehards, everyone seemed to have an angle.
No sooner had Anthony Quinn Warner been named as a person of interest in an apparent Christmas Day suicide bombing in Nashville, Tennessee, than conspiratorial circles began casting doubt on his identity, or else applauding his actions. Warner, 63, is accused of setting off a bomb in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning, damaging more than 40 businesses, killing himself, and injuring several others. Investigators have not yet identified a motive for the attack. Nevertheless, a certain pro-Trump segment appears to have taken up the bomber’s side, with another Tennessee man allegedly attempting a similar threat—albeit without any actual explosives—on Sunday.
Officials have not announced Warner’s possible motives, or whether the incident is being treated as an act of terror. Early reports suggest the FBI is investigating whether Warner (who law enforcement officials say set off the bomb from a recreational vehicle outside an AT&T building) was influenced by conspiracy theories about 5G technology. A realtor who worked with Warner who was questioned by the FBI told Nashville’s WSMV that agents asked about Warner’s interest in the technology, but that they did not know whether he held any such beliefs. more...
Fighters and coaches in mixed martial arts have propagated the popular conspiracy theory. The sport’s outsider origins may be to blame
There was anger on the streets of Huntington Beach. At the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway near the picturesque pier, hundreds gathered on 30 November in defiance of California’s coronavirus curfew, which prohibits all “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10pm and 5am until 21 December across most of the state. The so-called “curfew breakers” protest brought together a collection of coronavirus truthers, anti-maskers, and those who remain convinced that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
Among those gathered at the rally were former UFC champion Tito Ortiz, who was recently elected to Huntington Beach city council, despite a lack of any political or legislative experience. The fighter carried an American flag over his shoulder and stood among the raucous group, which bore signs such as “COVID is a SCAM,” and “Disobey the lockdown.”
“The public spoke and now it’s time for the people to take over before we lose our constitutional rights,” Ortiz said during an interview at the rally. “I know the ins and outs of what’s going on before the rest of people with their 9-to-5 jobs. At the end of the day, electoral votes – it’s a fraud.”
When asked about The Great Reset, a term coined by the World Economic Forum to describe the rebuilding of economic sustainably following the Covid-19 pandemic and which has since become a cornerstone of anti-lockdown sentiment, Ortiz said he believes the plan is part of a ‘globalist’ conspiracy to diminish American freedoms. Ortiz said the plan would have already have taken hold had it not been for one man. “Donald Trump is that person,” he said. more...
By Ewan Palmer
Supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory have unsurprisingly turned their backs on Mitch McConnell after he finally congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory. Followers of the radical movement who believe President Donald Trump is waging a secret war against satanic pedohiles, as well as pushing baseless claims that the election was rigged, were dismayed at the Senate Majority Leader and accusing him of being a traitor. Others said they will now leave the GOP or even form a new political party all together.
On Tuesday, McConnell announced that the "Electoral College has spoken" after it declared Biden had won 306 Electoral Votes and referred to him as the President-elect. Trump later criticized the Kentucky senator in a tweet: "Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot)," Trump said. "Too soon to give up. Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!" Trump's message was tweeted along with an article detailing a number of high-profile conservative figures also criticizing McConnell for accepting Biden as the president-elect. more...
By Manu Raju and Sam Fossum, CNN
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump brought up Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene's support for the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory during a meeting on keeping the Senate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other aides, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN. This person confirmed that Trump told those present that QAnon consists of people who "basically believe in good government," which led to silence in the room. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows then said he had not heard the group described as such.
Trump's comments were first reported by The Washington Post. QAnon's prevailing conspiracy theories -- none based in fact -- claim that dozens of Satan-worshipping politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. The group also peddles conspiracies about coronavirus and mass shootings -- none grounded in reality. Followers also believe there is a "deep state" effort to annihilate Trump. The group has been labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI. In public, Trump has claimed he doesn't "know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate," while repeatedly declining opportunities to condemn the organization's extremism.
As for Greene, Trump has called her a "future Republican star." But she has a history of prejudice and a proclivity for amplifying conspiracies. She said that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with Nazis. She called "Q" a "patriot" who is "worth listening to." She said that the deadly White supremacist rally held in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, was an "inside job" to "further the agenda of the elites." more...
Even if Trump loses in November, the influence of this unhinged conspiracy theory will only grow.
By Jeet Heer
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican nominee for Georgia’s 14th congressional district, is a harbinger of her party’s post-Trump future. She’s running in a strongly Republican district with an almost certain prospect of going to Congress. She disdains Black Lives Matter and argues that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in government. She’s also an adherent of QAnon, the amorphous conspiracy theory that holds that Donald Trump is battling a secret cabal of Satanic cannibalistic pedophiles who control the Democratic Party, Hollywood, and the American government.
In a 2017 video, Greene said, “There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.” For his part, Trump returned Greene’s regard. On August 12, the president tweeted, “Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent. Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up—a real WINNER.” Asked about QAnon on Friday, Trump avoided disavowing the conspiracy theory and reiterated his praise of Greene.
This tweet is in keeping with Trump’s general approach of aligning himself with the QAnon movement but not explicitly affirming it. As The New York Times notes, “Trump has not directly addressed QAnon, but he has conspicuously avoided denouncing it, and has shared dozens of posts from believers on his social media accounts.” more...
Neely Petrie-Blanchard allegedly shot the amateur legal expert who she’d turned to to reclaim custody of her kid.
A once murky alliance forged in a world of internet conspiracy theories appears to have ended in murder this past Sunday, with an infamous QAnon mom accused of having shot a fringe legal theorist. Neely Petrie-Blanchard, a Kentucky resident, had long ago lost custody of her daughters for reasons that are unclear. And to help in the task of getting them back, she turned to Chris Hallett, an amateur legal expert who offered bogus court services through a company called “E-Clause,” and who promised Petrie-Blanchard she could win her daughters back through ludicrous courtroom tactics he borrowed from the anti-government sovereign citizen’s movement.
Petrie-Blanchard went all-in on Hallett’s promises. When she did see her daughters, she dressed them in “E-Clause” shirts and put a vanity “ECLAUSE” license plate on her car. But, along the way, something went wrong. On Sunday night, Hallett was found face down in the kitchen of his central Florida home, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds to his back. Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said they found him dead when they arrived at the scene. They put out a multi-state arrest order for Petrie-Blanchard, who was arrested hours later in Georgia as the only named suspect in Hallett’s murder. more...
Devon Link - USA TODAY
The claim: President Trump secretly watermarked mail-in ballots to prove some ballots were fraudulent.
President Donald Trump's most fervent supporters have heard his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and taken them one step further. QAnon conspiracy theorists are using coded messages to argue that Trump secretly watermarked mail-in ballots before the election to expose Democratic voter fraud. “Okay I saw online, on social media that a watermark may have been used on the official ballots," YouTuber Chrissy Stafford said, exploring the false theory in a video published Nov. 4. "It's supposed to be little dots from the printer. That looks like little dots to me. Are you guys seeing this? What do you guys think? Is this the watermark?”
She held her camera up to what she claimed to be a 10X magnification gem scope so viewers could see small specks on what she said was her ballot strip. Within days, the video, titled "Watermark on 2020 ballot?", had nearly half a million views. USA TODAY could not message Stafford through her YouTube channel.
A QAnon conspiracy theory seeking to undermine election results and boost Trump
FactCheck.org debunked the claim that a watermark, or lack thereof, on ballots proves Democrats printed extra, illegitimate ballots. QAnon followers believe Trump is the country’s savior from a corrupt government of elite pedophiles. Believers look for secret messages from an anonymous, online whistleblower who goes by “Q.” QAnon believers have been trying to decode the phrase “watch the water” after "Q" posted it on message board 8kun (formerly 8chan) in February 2018. The conspiracy theorists have interpreted the term to be a coded message that Trump put watermarks on 2020 ballots so that he could later prove Democrats had created fraudulent ballots. more...
Joe Biden's win and the disintegration of the broader QAnon narrative do not spell the end of the broader conspiracy ecosystem it has built.
By Ben Collins
For days after the election, adherents to the QAnon conspiracy movement had been trying to get President Donald Trump’s attention with constant false claims about voter fraud connected to a company that makes voting machines. On Thursday, they celebrated. Trump tweeted in all-caps about a conspiracy theory that baselessly alleges that Dominion Voting Systems, a company that makes voting machines, “deleted” millions of Trump votes, citing a report on the far-right cable news outlet One America News Network.
While the theory has already been debunked — including by Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is tasked with national security related to the internet and technology — Trump's tweet offered a sliver of energy at a time when the QAnon movement had stalled, waiting for its leader, “Q,” to return with guidance from a hiatus that began on the morning of Election Day and lasted more than a week.
But QAnon is far from done. The movement's recent evolution and activity around the Dominion conspiracy theory highlight how even Joe Biden's election win and the disintegration of the broader QAnon narrative do not spell the end of the broader conspiracy ecosystem it has built. more...
He was arrested with Antonio Lamotta, who mused online about killing people over the “fake ‘natural pandemic’ psyop crisis” and embraced QAnon’s darkest, most anti-Semitic corners.
Will Sommer, Pilar Melendez
One of the armed men arrested while traveling to Philadelphia’s vote-counting center is a QAnon obsessive who posted violent, anti-Semitic comics online. The other is a President Trump super-fan who urged social media users to poll watch and suggested the 2020 election was being stolen from the president. QAnon conspiracy theorist Antonio Lamotta, 61, was arrested Thursday with 42-year-old Joshua Macias, the co-founder of “Vets for Trump,” on federal firearms charges after authorities reportedly received a tip that a group was headed from Virginia to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the site of the city’s ballot count, to “straighten things out.”
The pair drove from Virginia with pistols, an AR-15 rifle, and roughly 160 rounds of ammunition, according to Philadelphia police. They lacked valid Pennsylvania firearms permits to carry, and were charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a license, a third-degree felony, and carrying a firearm on public streets or public property, the District Attorney’s office said Friday. Both men, who are from Chesapeake, Virginia, were accompanied by a woman who was not charged with any crime.
“We will be requesting that both be held without eligibility for bail when they are arraigned later this evening, as this alarming incident is still very much under investigation regarding additional charges,” the district attorney’s office added. The arrests come as QAnon promoters stoke outlandish theories that the ballot count in Pennsylvania is a scheme to steal the election from Trump. more...
Marjorie Taylor Greene becomes the first one-time supporter of the conspiracy theory to be elected to federal office.
One-time QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene has won a House seat, according to race calls by NBC, CNN, and Decision Desk. Her victory marks the first time an open supporter of the bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory will hold a position in Congress. “THANK YOU to the people of NW Georgia for choosing me to fight for them in Washington, DC!” she tweeted after her win late Tuesday. Greene easily carried Georgia’s heavily conservative 14th Congressional District as the Republican nominee. Greene didn’t even face organized opposition on the ballot, with her Democratic opponent dropping out of the race and leaving the state amid a divorce.
Greene posted frequently in 2018 about QAnon, the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that imagines that a cabal of top Democrats sexually abuses and tortures children and that Donald Trump will soon put a stop to it with mass arrests and executions of his political enemies. The FBI has rated QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat, and the conspiracy theory has inspired murders and child kidnapping plots, among other crimes. more...
The conspiracy theorists have been forced to reckon with something they didn't expect. And some have begun simply advancing more conspiracies.
Aside from perhaps Donald Trump himself, no one is struggling more with what appears to be the president’s impending re-election defeat than QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Since Oct. 2017, when the mysterious “Q” first began issuing clues on the anonymous message board 4Chan, QAnon believers have been promised that Trump would bring down a “cabal” of pedophile-cannibals in the Democratic Party, Hollywood, and banking with mass waves of arrests in a cathartic moment called “The Storm.” They have been promised that The Storm would solve not only the world’s biggest problems, but their own. At various points, they have even convinced each other that Trump would solve diseases like cancer and absolve crushing medical and credit card debts.
But as Joe Biden builds his lead in Pennsylvania, QAnon followers are faced with their greatest challenge yet. For years, they’ve been told that—no matter how bad things looked for Trump on the outside—the president and the military had everything in hand. “Patriots were in control,” Q told them in one popular motto, “Enjoy the show.” Now, it’s starting to look to even some of the most dedicated followers—some of whom have sacrificed family in their devotion to the conspiracy theory—that QAnon might actually have been nonsense. And they aren’t sure what to do. more...
By Em Steck, Nathan McDermott and Christopher Hickey, CNN Illustration by Alberto Mier Published October 30, 2020
Washington (CNN) – In November 2017, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a small business owner in the suburbs of Atlanta, uploaded a nearly half-hour long video to Facebook outlining the elements of a new conspiracy theory known as QAnon, which casts President Donald Trump in an imagined battle against a sinister cabal of Democrats and celebrities who abuse children. “Q is a patriot, we know that for sure,” Greene said in the video, which has since been deleted. “There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the President to do it,” she said, referring to Trump.
There is no factual evidence or foundation for the conspiracy theory. In the three years since the conspiracy was born, QAnon has grown from an American virtual cult to a global phenomenon. QAnon beliefs aren’t just divorced from reality but can instigate real-world violence; The FBI warned last year that QAnon posed a potential domestic terrorist threat. And now the people who have engaged with the QAnon conspiracy theory, including Greene, are running for Congress.
Nearly two dozen Republicans across the country who have engaged with the QAnon conspiracy will also appear on the ballot this November in their congressional districts — or in two cases, statewide as Senate candidates — as well as one unaffiliated independent candidate and one Independent Party candidate. Every candidate on this list has engaged with QAnon to some degree; some engaged with QAnon content online before they sought political office on their personal accounts and later on their official campaign accounts; others have appeared on QAnon-related shows and talked about the conspiracy theory.
There are also other candidates who have made allusions or coded references to QAnon before — by citing human and child trafficking as a top campaign priority, for instance — but CNN is only including candidates in this list who have explicitly engaged with the conspiracy theory. more...
The 2016 US election pushed Mary* to embrace the bizarre conspiracy theory. Her fiance told me he just ‘fell apart’ Everyone remembers where they were when Trump won the election. Alex and Mary* remember it especially well. It was the night their relationship fell apart. Alex and I first met in 2012. I went to dinner one night with him and his fiancee, Mary. I remember her as a bright, intelligent woman with a passionate interest in animal rights. Fast forward to the evening of 8 November 2016, and a gaudy reality TV star was on the verge of being elected president of the most powerful country on Earth. As Alex and Mary watched state after state fall for Donald Trump, it became clear that the beginning of this new chapter in American history would mark the end of their marriage.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mary had become a dedicated conspiracy theorist, paving the way for her embrace of a bizarre conspiracy theory known as QAnon. “I had a nervous breakdown,” says Alex. “I couldn’t wrap my mind around the whole Trump thing and all the weird stuff Mary was getting into. I just fell apart.” Mary is unambiguous about the reason their marriage ended. “It is 100% my fault. I came in as one person and left as another.”
QAnon has become a linchpin of far-right media—and the effort to preemptively delegitimize the election.
Whether President Donald Trump wins or loses, some version of QAnon is going to survive the election. On the day of the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, the individual or group known as “Q” sent out a flurry of posts. “ONLY THE ILLUSION OF DEMOCRACY,” began one. “Joe 30330—Arbitrary?—What is 2020 [current year] divided by 30330? Symbolism will be their downfall,” read another, darkly hinting at satanic numerology in Joe Biden’s campaign text-messaging code.
Vague, foreboding messages that could mean anything or nothing—these are the hallmarks of QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory, built around Q’s postings on internet message boards, in which Trump is heroically battling a global cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles. But something noteworthy lurked in Q’s final post of the night: “SHADOW PRESIDENT. SHADOW GOVERNMENT. INFORMATION WARFARE. IRREGULAR WARFARE. COLOR REVOLUTION. INSURGENCY.”
Color revolution. This was the first time Q used the term. Originally a reference to mass protests such as the one in Ukraine in 2004, when citizens wearing orange clothes and carrying orange banners rallied to bring down a government, it became a catchphrase that authoritarian governments use to discredit pro-democracy movements as the handiwork of the CIA. Q was using color revolution in just that way. more...
By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com
A new poll in the wake of President Trump's refusal to denounce QAnon shows that half of his supporters believe a bizarre conspiracy claim that Trump is working to shut down a secret Democratic-run pedophilia ring. The results, contained in a Yahoo News / YouGov poll, comes after Trump clashed in a town hall forum when interviewer Savannah Guthrie invited him to condemn the group and its bizarre theory. It reveals the potential political pressure the president believes he is facing, with many of his supporters subscribing to a bizarre idea he refused to denounce.
A 55 per cent majority of voters have still not heard of the group, according to the poll. And among all registered voters, a vast majority do not subscribe to its bizarre view about a secret child sex ring, 51 to 25. But it is another matter when examining Trump supporters. Among them, a full 50 per cent believe the idea, according to the survey, with 17 per cent saying they don't believe it and a third 'not sure.' By contrast, just 5 per cent of Joe Biden voters believe the claim. 'I know nothing about QAnon,' Trump said at the town hall when asked to condemn their conspiracies. more...
Analysis by Donie O'Sullivan
(CNN Business) I spent my last two Saturdays going to two very different QAnon events. One, in Los Angeles, was a march through Hollywood that portrayed itself as an anti-pedophilia protest. Its organizers were careful not to explicitly embrace the QAnon conspiracy theory even as they implicitly signaled they support it and repeated its disinformation — much like what President Donald Trump did during an NBC town hall last week. The other event, "Q Con Live," took place in a conference room at a resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a meeting of some of QAnon's most passionate peddlers — but it could have easily been mistaken for a grassroots meeting to help re-elect the President.
What both showed is that for many of its supporters QAnon is not just a set of conspiracy theories. For them, it's a way to distract themselves from the failures of a President they see as the hero of a fight against an all-encompassing villainy, to elevate themselves by casting his critics and political opponents as those villains, and to not have to pay attention to all of the US' very real problems, like Covid-19 and systemic racism.
A march in Hollywood
"Pedophiles, you are on notice! - Q" one person's sign at the event in Hollywood said. Along with other material, including a QAnon symbol, the sign featured a picture of Trump heroically pointing, with the words "And I mean you Hollywood" added underneath. And then there was a hashtag: #SaveTheChildren. more...
By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump doubled down on his refusal to denounce QAnon conspiracy theorists, saying in a nationally televised town hall Thursday night that "they are very much against pedophilia" and he agrees with that sentiment. In a heated exchange, NBC News' Savannah Guthrie asked Trump if he could state that the prevailing conspiracy devised by QAnon was not true. "I know nothing about QAnon," Trump responded. "I just told you," Guthrie said. Trump fired back, saying, "What you tell me doesn't necessarily make it fact."
QAnon's main conspiracy theories -- none based in fact -- claim dozens of Satan-worshipping politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. Followers also believe there is a "deep state" effort to annihilate Trump and that the President is secretly working to bust these pedophilic cabals. The President claimed that all he knows about the movement, which has had a prevalent presence at his campaign rallies, is that "they are very much against pedophilia" and that he agrees with that sentiment. Followers of the group -- which has been labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI -- have also peddled baseless theories surrounding mass shootings and elections and have falsely claimed that 5G cellular networks are spreading the coronavirus. more...
Story by Bronte Lord and Richa Naik, CNN Business
One day in June 2019, Jitarth Jadeja went outside to smoke a cigarette. For two years he'd been in the virtual cult of QAnon. But now he'd watched a YouTube video that picked apart the last element of the theory he believed in. Standing there smoking, he would say later, he felt "shattered." He had gone down the QAnon rabbit hole; now, having emerged from it, he had no idea what to do next.
'QAnon only hurts people. It has helped nobody.'
QAnon is a virtual cult that began in late 2017. The most basic QAnon belief casts President Trump as the hero in a fight against the "deep state" and a sinister cabal of Democratic politicians and celebrities who abuse children. And it features an anonymous government insider called "Q" who purportedly shares secret information about that fight via cryptic online posts. Travis View is a conspiracy theory researcher who co-hosts the podcast "QAnon Anonymous." The theory's believers "always fantasize that they are saving children and they're bringing criminals to justice," View says. "But QAnon only hurts people. It has helped nobody." more...
The couple made their donation in August before a scheduled fundraiser with Pence was canceled after their promotion of the QAnon conspiracy theory came to light.
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump recently accepted $1 million in campaign contributions from a couple whose vocal support for the QAnon conspiracy theory led to the cancellation of a fundraiser they were supposed to host for Vice President Mike Pence last month.
The couple, Caryn and Michael Borland, have shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts, The Associated Press reported in September, which led to the cancellation of a Montana fundraiser. The conspiracy theory includes baseless, farfetched allegations about liberals and satanism and child sex trafficking as well as claims that Trump is fighting entrenched enemies in the government.
New campaign finance disclosures released Thursday night show Trump's joint fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee accepted $1.03 million from the couple, which they donated in late August before the fundraiser was canceled. Their son, whose occupation is listed as “student," contributed an additional $580,000 around the same time, the records show. more...
Guardian investigation finds more than 3m aggregate followers and members support QAnon on Facebook, and their numbers are growing
By Julia Carrie Wong
Guardian investigation finds more than 3m aggregate followers and members support QAnon on Facebook, and their numbers are growing. In early May, QAnon braced for a purge. Facebook had removed a small subset – five pages, six groups and 20 profiles – of the community on the social network, and as word of the bans spread, followers of Q began preparing for a broader sweep. Some groups changed their names, substituting “17” for “Q” (the 17th letter of the alphabet); others shared links to back-up accounts on alternative social media platforms with looser rules. More than just another internet conspiracy theory, QAnon is a movement of people who interpret as a kind of gospel the online messages of an anonymous figure – “Q” – who claims knowledge of a secret cabal of powerful pedophiles and sex traffickers. Within the constructed reality of QAnon, Donald Trump is secretly waging a patriotic crusade against these “deep state” child abusers, and a “Great Awakening” that will reveal the truth is on the horizon. QAnon evolved out of the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which posited that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a Washington DC pizza restaurant, and has come to incorporate numerous strands of rightwing conspiracy mongering. Dedicated followers interpret Q’s cryptic messages in a kind of digital scavenger hunt. Despite the fact that Q’s prognostications have reliably failed to come true, followers rationalize the inaccuracies as part of a larger plan.
By Donie O'Sullivan and Konstantin Toropin, CNN
New York (CNN Business) Authorities in Oregon are pleading with the public to only trust and share information verified by official sources about the unprecedented wildfires sweeping the state. The pleas come as law enforcement agencies described 911 dispatchers being overrun with calls about a false online rumor that "Antifa" members had been arrested for setting the fires — a claim promoted by the anonymous account behind the QAnon conspiracy theories. The incident highlights how online conspiracy theories, a sustained right-wing campaign to create increased fear of anti-fascist groups, and amplification of false claims by QAnon followers, have real consequences.
On Friday, the FBI responded, saying, "reports that extremists are setting wildfires in Oregon are untrue." "Rumors spread just like wildfire," the Douglas County Sheriff's Office warned in a Facebook post Thursday, adding that staff had been "overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires" in the area. That specific claim had been amplified by "Q" — the anonymous person or people behind QAnon — only 12 hours earlier. Early Thursday morning, "Q" posted a link to a tweet from Paul Joseph Romero Jr., a former US Senate candidate who lost his Republican primary in May, that falsely claimed the Douglas County Sheriff's Office had six Antifa "arsonists" in custody. Speaking to CNN Saturday, Romero claimed, "My original tweet is not 100% accurate, there is no question about that, but it is mostly accurate," and said he wanted to draw people's attention to his belief that arsonists are responsible for a lot of the fires. More...
By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor
(CNN) Parker Neff was scrolling through conservative posts on Facebook when he saw an unfamiliar hashtag: #WWG1WGA. Recently retired after serving as a Southern Baptist pastor for more than 20 years, his time was free and curiosity piqued. "I started looking into it online," Neff said. "Doing some research." And with that, the 66-year-old retiree, and soon his wife, Sharon, fell down one of the internet's most dangerous rabbit holes. It didn't take long for Neff to find the hashtag's meaning. "Where We Go One We Go All" is one of several mottoes of QAnon, a collective of online conspiracists. The pastor and his wife, who live in Arcola, Mississippi, began watching the vast collection of QAnon videos posted online by "researchers" who decipher the cryptic messages of "Q," an anonymous online persona who claims to have access to classified military and intelligence operations. Since its inception in 2017 QAnon has quickly metastasized, infiltrating American politics, internet culture and now -- religion. more...
By Nancy Dillon - New York Daily News
Entering the world of QAnon is like stumbling into a fringe fantasyland embracing every crackpot conspiracy theory of the last two decades. Adherents believe one of Lady Gaga’s getups at the recent MTV Video Music Awards was coded confirmation she’s part of a secret cabal of devil-worshiping pedophile cannibals. They think a color-blocked star used on signage at the Democratic National Convention is a cleverly disguised depiction of the Sigil of Baphomet, a symbol of the Church of Satan. Many believe Hollywood and Democratic elites engage in the ritualistic torture of children to harvest a mythical, psychedelic drug called Adrenochrome from the kids’ tiny adrenal glands.
Some suggest Tom Hanks and Idris Elba got coronavirus from tainted Adrenochrome. Others made the easily debunked claim Hanks’ quarantine in Australia was cover for an arrest linked to the demonic plot. Lots are convinced countless kids are being held prisoner by a human trafficking ring with secret tunnels under Central Park. More...
By Travis M. Andrews
There was a time not long ago when the letter held no special meaning for Jacob, a 24-year-old in Croatia. The 17th letter of the alphabet, usually followed by “u” in English words. What else was there to know? He certainly never expected it to end the tightknit relationship he shared with his mother. But Jacob, who grew up in the United States, told The Washington Post that he has cut all contact with his mother now that she’s become an ardent believer of the QAnon conspiracy theories. Though they long held different political beliefs, they had “a really, really strong relationship,” he said. “We were inseparable.” He had no reason to think anything had changed. But during the holidays in 2019, “our relationship just completely tanked.”
QAnon can be traced back to a series of 2017 posts on 4chan, the online message board known for its mixture of trolls and alt-right followers. The poster was someone named “Q,” who claimed to be a government insider with Q security clearance, the highest level in the Department of Energy. QAnon’s origin matters less than what it’s become, an umbrella term for a loose set of conspiracy theories ranging from the false claim that vaccines cause illness and are a method of controlling the masses to the bogus assertion that many pop stars and Democratic leaders are pedophiles. more...
Explaining the “big tent conspiracy theory” that falsely claims that President Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles.
By Kevin Roose
If you’re spending a lot of time online these days — and thanks to the pandemic, many of us are — you’ve probably heard of QAnon, the sprawling internet conspiracy theory that has taken hold among some of President Trump’s supporters. But unless you’re very online, you likely still have questions about what exactly is going on. QAnon was once a fringe phenomenon — the kind most people could safely ignore. But in recent months, it’s gone mainstream. Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have been flooded with QAnon-related false information about Covid-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and the 2020 election. QAnon supporters have also been trying to attach themselves to other activist causes, such as the anti-vaccine and anti-child-trafficking movements, in an effort to expand their ranks.
QAnon has also seeped into the offline world, with some believers charged with violent crimes, including one QAnon follower accused of murdering a mafia boss in New York last year and another who was arrested in April and accused of threatening to kill Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned that QAnon poses a potential domestic terror threat. Last week, QAnon reached a new milestone when Marjorie Taylor Greene, an avowed QAnon supporter from Georgia, won a Republican primary in a heavily conservative district, setting her up for a near-certain election to Congress in November. After Ms. Greene’s win, Mr. Trump called her a “future Republican star.” More...