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Hello from the Right Richter quarantine cave, where I’m on the last day of my CPAC self-isolation. More on that below, and hope all of our readers are well!
- Move over, Baby Mario. “Baby Q” is on the scene.
- New documentary on conspiracy theories and our terrible politics.
- CPAC turns on its own over coronavirus.
QAnon believers should be living high on the hog these days. The president recently posted a blatantly pro-QAnon meme, and Tom Hanks—the Terminal star who plays an arch-villain role in the QAnon mythos—has come down with the coronavirus.
Instead, QAnon is in turmoil. The reason: a young upstart with a YouTube account is bossing around the old guard by claiming that he is himself Q.
A month ago, a mysterious young man using the name Austin Steinbart started to make waves in the QAnon community. Steinbart has the confident, dismissive mien of a reality-show villain, and his videos exploring the QAnon world have all the quick-cuts and peppy attitude of a gadget unboxing. He’s won plenty of adherents among QAnon conspiracy theorists, who are otherwise used to settling for much lower production values.
The whole QAnon theory that Democrats are running a pedophile-cannibal cabal to destroy the globe is based off of anonymous posts from a mysterious person or group of people named “Q.” For the majority of QAnon believers, Q is Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, or maybe Trump social media director Dan Scavino. In this wacko world, Donald Trump himself bears the moniker “Q+.”
QAnon watchers—both believers and non-believers—have been very curious about Q’s identity. So it was a big deal last week when Steinbart revealed who Q really is: him! As a result, Steinbart’s fans have dubbed him “Baby Q.”
Steinbart initially said he was just following QAnon clues. More recently, though, he’s claimed that he actually is Q. How does that make sense? Well... time travel.
In Steinbart’s telling, Q is Steinbart from the future, who’s traveled back in time to leave present-day Steinbart clues. This is obviously a lot of nonsense, but plenty of people are getting on board with it!
The comments on Steinbart’s videos are filled with QAnon fans amazed that the truth about Q has been revealed after so long. The latest 8Chan message board has lit up with discussions of Steinbart and the “Baby Q issue.” After I tweeted about Steinbart, one of his fans emailed me to ask if I could get Steinbart to help her with her personal problems.
What he’s laying out is absolutely nuts. But it’s been driving the QAnon old-guard absolutely nuts too. When I tweeted an interview request at Steinbart in an attempt to figure out what exactly he’s up to, more established QAnon hucksters moaned that my attempt to contact him was proof that he’s a deep-state puppet.
All of the hucksters making money off of QAnon aren’t thrilled with the prospect of being displaced by a guy who has come out of absolutely nowhere to claim that he’s Q. But Steinbart has been talking an incredible level of trash, trying to wrest control of the lucrative QAnon believer demo from the people who have previously controlled them.
“Take a seat,” Steinbart told his critics in a recent YouTube video, tapping his forehead. “Understand that I am nowhere near as measured as Q+.”
It’s not clear exactly what kind of scheme Steinbart is running, or if that’s even his real name. His Instagram account goes back for more than a year, and features pictures of him or someone who looks like him with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the late John McCain—pics that have been fodder for his critics, who see McCain and Graham as deep-state stars. Otherwise, though, it’s difficult to learn anything about Steinbart, or what exactly he’s gaining by screwing with QAnon fans.
But it seems like his foes have one legitimate beef: none of them had the audacity to just claim they were Q before he did!
If you’re reading Right Richter, you’re probably interested in the way that disinformation and conspiracy theories are influencing our politics. If that’s the case, I think you’ll like After Truth, a documentary premiering on HBO on March 19.
I appear in it a couple of times, talking about Pizzagate, Seth Rich, and the various misdeeds of Jacob Wohl. Check out the trailer.
The revelation that an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) had coronavirus did more than just send me and plenty of other people into self-isolation.
They also set off a bitter round of recriminations between CPAC attendees and the event’s leadership, with attendees accusing CPAC bosses like Matt Schlapp of only notifying top lawmakers like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about the infected attendee’s identity.
In reality, CPAC appears to have done contract-tracing with anyone who interacted with the infected attendee, with the confusion coming from the fact that lesser-known CPAC participants didn’t tweet that they were entering seclusion.
Still, the anger over CPAC came to a head early this week, after former Breitbart reporter Raheem Kassam tweeted about his flu-like symptoms and confusion about who had the coronavirus. Schlapp slammed him right back, bizarrely accusing Kassam of “driving a stake through my heart” with his tweets.
The feud typifies the spat between the GOP personalities and establishment figures, who have been divided over how much to downplay the coronavirus risk as Trump fumbles its containment. But it also reflects a growing split in the larger GOP over how much they should acknowledge that coronavirus is actually spreading across the country, and how much admitting that means criticizing Trump himself.